The second winner of the Newbery Award (1923), The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting (Lexile: 930; Interest Level: Grades 4-7) tells the story of one of the voyages of the great naturalist who could talk to animals. It is told from the point of view of Tommy Stubbins, the son of a local cobbler who seeks out the doctor to help a squirrel he found with a broken leg. Tommy convinces the doctor to take him on as an apprentice, teach him to read and to talk with the animals. Tommy and Doctor Dolittle embark on an amazing adventure to Spider Monkey Island, a floating island off the coast of Brazil. There are several mini-adventures along the way including stowaways and a failed mutiny, but when they arrive at the island, things really pick up!
The language in this book is rather old-fashioned, and the timeline sometimes doesn't quite make sense, but the story is fun and engaging, nevertheless. Readers who enjoy animal stories and wish they had Dr. Dolittle's wonderful gift will enjoy this story. It is the second of Hugh Lofting's books about the amazing doctor, but it stands alone just fine. (336 p.)
At the end of the first Mary Poppins book, she leaves by floating away on the wind with her umbrella. At the beginning of Mary Poppins Comes Back by P. L. Travers (Lexile: Unknown; Interest Level: Grades 4-7), the Banks household is topsy-turvy because nothing has been the same since Mary Poppins left. At her wits end, Mrs. Banks sends the children by themselves to the Park. As Michael flies his kite, some clouds roll in and as Michael tugs his string to pull his kite down from the clouds, he finds Mary Poppins at the end of the string!
And, thus, the adventures of the children and their amazing Nanny begin again. The Banks household gets back in order, and everyone settles down into normalcy. At least, what is normal for Mary Poppins, which includes visits with some extraordinary people and late night adventures that end with the children waking in their beds and Mary Poppins denying the adventures. Anyone who enjoyed the first Mary Poppins book will also enjoy this second installment. (304 p.)
One of the reasons I became an elementary school librarian is so I can read children's books.