I’ve got those Puddleby-on-the-Marsh blues…

I have a confession to make. I’m a sucker for the Dr. Dolittle novels. I encountered them at age 6 in the Lima Public Library in upstate New York. I read them so often I wrote a sequel at age 8, and I’d give a shilling or two to find that. I renewed their acquaintanceship more than three decades later with the help of my childhood friend, Pete Henderson, at the time a bookseller in Rochester. My collection is almost complete, my prize a 1924 edition of Doctor Dolittle’s Circus.IMG_0914[1] I’m not blind to the books’ flaws. Author Hugh Lofting can drift into formula. The volumes set in Africa are racist. Lazy characterizations persist, personified (so to speak) by the one dimensional Dab-Dab the Duck, the perpetually grouchy housekeeper. The best, like Dr. Dolittle and the Green Canary, feature plucky animals narrating their adventures across England. I always attributed my love of reading to the books. Then it occurred to me that Pam and I are in possession of one dog, two parakeets and three cats. Now I’m wondering.

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