Oh dear. How many of you have seen the 1967 film, or the Eddie Murphy remake, and remember this adorable childhood classic about a kindly English doctor who talks to animals?
How many of you have actually read the book and know that it was really, really racist? I mean, whether you want to excuse it for the time it was written (1920) is up to you, and racism aside, it's quite a charming book with the sort of story any child would love. A nice doctor who talks to animals! And they go to Africa and save all the monkeys! And then they fight pirates! Dr. Doolittle talks to everything from dogs and pigs and mice to sharks and parrots and eagles and a two-headed Tibetan "Pushmi-Pullyu."
Yes, the story was charming. I listened to it because it was another one of Audible's free downloads and I needed something to listen to while gardening.
However, I think before I'd read this aloud to my child, or allow a child to read it, I'd want to have a talk about the n-word. And all the other words for black people that are used in this story. And the subplot about the black prince who's very, very sad because Sleeping Beauty was so horrified to be awoken by a black boy that she ran away and went back to sleep. So he asks Dr. Doolittle to make him white.
This is suitable for a young reader who's capable of grasping the concept of "problematic" products of their time. It was fun, even for an adult listener - it's not written for very, very young children. But it's definitely a children's story, and, uh, a product of its time.