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Matthew Mugg and his friend Tommy Stubbins visit Doctor John Dolittle and his houseful of animals, including a talking parrot named Polynesia. Dolittle says he can speak over 500 animal languages. Matthew meets the rare two-headed Pushmi-Pullyu from Tibet and falls in love with Emma, the niece of Dolittle’s crusty neighbour, General Bellowes. At Albert Blossom’s circus Dolittle talks to a sea-lion named Sophie who longs to return to her husband, so he takes her to some cliffs and throws her into the sea. However, two fishermen mistake the seal for a woman, and Dolittle is charged with murder. Matthew, Tommy, Polynesia, Chee-Chee, the chimp, Jip the dog, and Emma all join the Doctor and flee the country by ship. Following a shipwreck they land on Sea Star Island for a series of adventures, and finally meet Sophie and her husband who bring a message that all is forgiven and the Doctor will be welcomed back home. The others sail back home on the Great Pink Sea Snail, whilst the Doctor chooses to fly home on the back of the Giant Lunar Moth.

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