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John Dolittle is a doctor living in the small village, Puddleby[[note]]short for Puddleby-on-the-Marsh[[/note]]. He is a highly competent and well-respected physician, but he is also somewhat of an animal hoarder, which drives away almost all of the paying human customers. The only exception is the Cat's-meat-man (a man who sells meat for pets to eat, not a man who sells the meat of cats) who's never had any problem with animals. John Doolittle even drives his own spinster sister away when he adopts a crocodile, and he's left penniless with no one to take care of his house or manage his money.

His parrot, Polynesia, teaches Dolittle how to speak certain animal languages, which fascinates him. And despite his dire financial straits, he remains happy and carefree. One day he receives a message from a swallow begging him to travel to Africa to cure a disease epidemic among the monkeys. Being flat-out broke, he borrows money and a ship and sails across the ocean, adventure waiting just around the corner

''The Story of Doctor Dolittle'' is the first book of Creator/HughLofting's ''Literature/DoctorDolittle'' series. It was published in 1920 and now in the public domain and can be read [[http://www.gutenberg.org/files/501/501-h/501-h.htm here]].

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!!This novel provides examples of:

* AmplifiedAnimalAptitude: All animals have language and can understand abstract concepts. Even very simple organisms without nervous systems like starfish and sea urchins can be multilingual and have meaningful conversations.
* AnimalTalk: Subverted. Each animal species has its own language. Polynesia, the Doctor's parrot, is multilingual and taught Dolittle his first animal languages. Much of the book "The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle" actually deals with Dolittle attempting to learn the language of shellfish and several other aquatic species and requires a scene in which a giant sea snail has to talk to the doctor through a sea urchin, who translates for a starfish, who translates for some dolphins, who translate for Doctor Dolittle.
** Though the Doctor's household consists of (among others) a dog, a horse, a goose, an owl, a pig and a mouse, and they can talk with each other easily, so there is some lingua franca going on. Polynesia is the only one who can speak human languages.
* {{Bowdlerize}}: Bumpo wishing to be [[MightyWhitey white]] is edited out of some later editions of the book.
* CarnivoreConfusion: Animals vary in their degree of intelligence, but all are sapient. This obviously creates some issues, but they are never really addressed.
* FriendToAllLivingThings: To the point of practically being an animal hoarder.
* MightyWhitey: Bumpo agrees to help Doctor Dolittle if the Doctor will in turn make him white.
* PollyWantsAMicrophone: [[AmplifiedAnimalAptitude Although ''all'' animals are implied to be sapient]], Polynesia is a parrot who can understand and speak fluent English (among other languages). She's fluent in English because the Doctor taught it to her, enabling her to return the favor by teaching him animal languages.
* SpeaksFluentAnimal: The former trope namer. All animals speak different languages, some incorporating body language.
* TalkingAnimal: Polynesia, who is a parrot, naturally.
* TranslationConvention: Happens in a lot of the conversations between animals.

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