Bennett's reading of the classic children's book is deliciously whimsical. As the tale opens, Dr. John Dolittle is on the verge of the realization that he's just not much good as a people doctor--his earnings have dwindled to a paltry sixpence a year. He takes the advice of his creaky-voiced 183-year-old parrot, Polynesia, and learns animal languages. As an animal doctor, he's brilliant and soon finds himself and his animal friends sailing to Africa to treat an epidemic among monkeys. With no trouble at all, Doctor Dolittle cures the monkeys, but he and his menagerie become embroiled in one adventure after another. They narrowly escape sinking in their leaky ship, thanks to some stowaway rats with surprisingly cultured and well-bred diction, who alert the doctor just in time. The doctor and his friends later run afoul of the Barbary pirates, known to be "a bad lot," for whom Bennett devises a hilariously unidentifiable but thoroughly villainous accent. With the help of some fast-talking (and hungry) sharks, Doctor Dolittle "persuades" the pirates they'd be much better off as birdseed farmers.