Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Book Review by ChristineMM


Title: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car

Author: Ian Fleming

Illustrator: Joe Berger

Publication: Candlewick Press, 2013 (reprint with new illustrations)

As a 40-something mom my knowledge of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the 1968 musical movie starring Dick Van Dyke, which I watched annually as a child. I had not read the book as a child or as an adult, although it would have been a good read aloud for my sons, I now know.

This is the only book that Ian Fleming has published for children, a story he wrote for his son, originally published in 1964. If the name is not familiar, he is the inventor of James Bond, 007. This story is typical of a boy story of its time, with a focus on action and adventure. Here the main character is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a supposedly magical car who has abilities that its inventor crackpot owner did not put into place or know about until various crises occurred. Actually the car is a genius of engineering so kids interested in cars or cool machinery will enjoy it (not far from the cool gadgets of Fleming’s James Bond character.) Two are its ability to fly and to float atop the water as a boat. The adventures occur in England and France.

Some differences with the movie are that this is about a happy, intact family with mother, father, and twins, a boy and a girl. There is no grandfather (and no pretty girlfriend named Trudy). The movie seemed to be more about the human relationships while the book with its short page count and high action and adventure focuses on that action not on getting to know any of the human characters much. In the movie the Dictator of the country of Vulgaria stole the car out of envy and in this tale there is a mobster with a gang of thieves who the Potts family discovers and leads to a kidnapping of the children, as was a feature in the movie.

I enjoyed Fleming’s storytelling style and his unique voice. Some of the terms are old-fashioned and others are England-centric, this adds to the story’s tone and style. I liked it when the chapters ended on a cliff-hanger, these are loved by boys especially and also they draw in reluctant readers (especially boys). I think this would make a fun read aloud to children. This is a good vs. evil story, the good guys versus the criminals.
Candlewick Press issued this new edition of the old story with new illustrations by Joe Berger. They also have published two sequels penned by a different author, Frank Cottrell Boyce: CCBB Flies Again and CCBB and The Race Against Time. All three are illustrated by Joe Berger. I have not read those two sequels yet.

This would be a great read-aloud or a book that kids ages 9-12 can read to themselves. I feel this would be interest to reluctant reader boys who like action tales and the idea of cars that can do cool things.

I rate this story 5 stars = I Love It.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book for the purpose of reviewing it for's Vine program. I was not paid to review it nor was I under obligation to review it favorably or to blog the review.

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