Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

by Ian Fleming

150 pages, 12 chapters

London, Penguin, 1964

Age: 6 +

Interests: cars, magic, adventure, action, family, cops and robbers, science/inventions

Next: see the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (story is much different)

The Potts family, under the direction of brilliant inventor father Caractacus, enjoys a windfall through the sale of a new candy recipe. They spend the proceeds on an old sportscar, formerly famous but now heading for the scrap heap. Caractacus fixes it up and they depart on a family outing at the seaside. What they don’t know is that Chitty has some magic tricks of its own – when they find themselves backed up in traffic the car takes flight! A little later the car unexpectedly takes them across the English Channel where they find a gangster’s hideout cave full of guns and ammunition and blow it to kingdom come. The gangsters are less than pleased with this and kidnap the children but again Chitty Chitty Bang Bang roars to the rescue.

I was a little surprised at how different this story is from the movie version. In the book there is no single-father-finds-a-mate storyline, as the family consists of two parents and two children right from the get-go. The crime story, pitting the Potts foursome against gangsters, I found a little ho-hum, but it moves along nicely and should be a hit for kids who love a little action. The appealing thing about this book, besides all the surprises of a magic car, is that the family works together as a unit throughout the story – the children make suggestions and contribute to all plans and decisions along the way. It would have been nice if the four Potts had more distinct individual personalities (especially Mrs.), but for a streamlined action story this works just fine.

Kidnapping of children is not too traumatic. Jemima and Jeremy remain plucky and chipper throughout, and are clever enough to foil an attempted robbery with an ingenious strategy.

Plusses: happy family having adventures together, eccentric scientist/inventor as a hero, brave and clever children, a car with a personality and hidden magical abilities

Minuses: book does feel a little tossed off – some plot holes and more than a little meandering

(This title on amazon.)

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