Dr. Dolittle

Seymour Chwast

Book - 2015

A man learns to talk to animals and becomes their champion around the world, in this graphic novel retelling of Hugh Lofting's Story of Doctor Dolittle.

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room jGRAPHIC NOVEL/Lofting Checked In
Graphic novels
Mankato, MN : Creative Editions 2015.
First edition
Physical Description
32 pages : color illustrations ; 32 cm
Main Author
Seymour Chwast (author)
Other Authors
Hugh Lofting, 1886-1947 (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Graphic designer Chwast brings his eclectic vision to Hugh Lofting's classic novel in this graphic adaptation. Intended to update the original story for a twenty-first-century audience, Chwast's take condenses each chapter of the original into a handful of comic panels, retaining only the major themes and plot points. Using his distinctive art style, Chwast employs bold illustrations to carry the story, although readers not familiar with the original novel in its broader context may find the stripped-down narrative somewhat disjointed. Ample white space amplifies the candy-colored hues throughout the book, and the ink-and-crayon palette works in tandem with the simple, childlike drawing. Varying panel sizes and creative use of space help create energy, offsetting the sometimes static characters. Although the visual treatment is certainly modern, traces of Lofting's colonial perspective remain intact and may be jarring to contemporary readers. Idiosyncratic almost to the point of absurdity, this will appeal to readers who enjoy the offbeat and unusual. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Chwast, who adapted The Odyssey and The Canterbury Tales into short graphic narratives, condenses Hugh Lofting's colonialist 1920 novel into a snappy albeit still colonialist comics-style picture book. Fourteen chapters occupy a multipanel page or two each, focusing on the amiable cooperation between Dolittle and his animal companions, known as "the pets." After learning animal language from his parrot, Polynesia, Dolittle sails to a nonspecific African region, intending to rescue ailing monkeys. There he meets an unsympathetic, unnamed king and queen, who jail him and his menagerie. Once Polynesia tricks the royals, Dolittle continues his mission to save the monkeys. Chwast excises Lofting's racial stereotypes while preserving Dolittle's encounter with Barbary Coast pirates; a kindly shark asks, "Do you want us to eat these pirates?" and Dolittle magnanimously replies, "No thanks, but maybe you could keep them busy for a while." Lofting's two-headed Pushmi-Pullyu likewise remains a fixture, earning money for the doctor as a seaside fair attraction. Chwast's flippant line illustration and imperfect crayoning communicate a casual approach as he hits the highlights and dispenses with anachronistic elements. Ages 9–12. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 2–5—Legendary cartoonist Chwast adapts and illustrates Lofting's classic first "Doctor Dolittle" novel, published in Britain in 1920. Stripping the story to its bare bones, slightly modernizing the setting, and formatting the tale in panels to please graphic novel lovers, this updated version introduces the story to a generation of children—and adults—who may never have heard of it, let alone read it. A good thing, too. The controversial racist elements in the original are happily omitted, but the retelling also exposes the thinness of the plot. Though young readers may be charmed by the talking-to-animals premise and fantastic story line, they'll find no drama or tension here, and the dialogue and ending are flat. Still, the good doctor's love of and concern for animals comes through. The illustrator's signature style is the real draw, with the humorous penciled drawings, rendered in soft, muted colors, expertly capturing the whimsical nature of the piece. Plenty of white space makes for a clean, not overly busy look. Hand-lettered captions, speech bubbles, and chapter headings add to the child-friendly visual appeal. VERDICT This spare version might encourage some readers to seek out the novel and its sequels. Young picture book aficionados will enjoy it, too. Recommended for large public library collections.—Carol Goldman, Queens Library, NY [Page 98]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A man learns to talk to animals and becomes their champion around the world, in this graphic novel retelling of Hugh Lofting's Story of Doctor Dolittle.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

American artist Seymour Chwast reinterprets Hugh Lofting’s The Story of Doctor Dolittle for a 21st-century, graphic-novel-influenced audience, formatting the text in a comic style.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Based on Hugh Lofting's The Story of Doctor Dolittle, iconic American artist Seymour Chwast reinterprets the 1920s tale for a 21st-century, graphic-novel-influenced audience. Although the text itself has been reimagined to fit the format, the general plot of The Story of Doctor Dolittle, along with the sentiments and ideals behind it, remain the same: in Dr. Dolittle's world of childlike wonder and hope, we are all encouraged to be caretakers of the creatures around us.