"Crackpot" is what everybody calls the Pott family. So when they go to buy a new car and come back with a wreck, nobody is surprised-except for the Potts themselves. First, the car has a name, and she tells them what it is! Then they find out that she can fly ... and swim. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a car on a mission to stop a criminal gang in its tracks-and she's taking the Potts with her. Jump into the world's most loved magical car for her first adventure.
Original publication date
I read Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang along with my 9 year old daughter. I haven't seen the movie in many years. She watched it a few months ago. As we started reading, it was quickly apparent some of the differences between the movie and the novel. Strangely enough, after the movie was released and widely enjoyed, they decided to make a "novelization" of the movie version of the story...which goes to show the large amount of differences present. They couldn't simply push film-goers towards the original novel...they actually wrote a new novel based on the film. Strange fun indeed.
As to the original book of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car, it starts off introducing us to Caractacus Pott and his family. Caractacus is an inventor who loves to invent but doesn't always find much financial success as a result. His wife and two children are very supportive and they enjoy his quirks and fun almost as much as he does. As in the movie, Caractacus invents the "Toot Sweet" and sells it to a candy shop. He has more success in the book, however, and with the money he earns, the family decides to buy a car. They find Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang in a scrapyard and immediately all four of them fall in love with it. Pott takes it home and spends hours/days in his workshop fixing it up.
I loved the narrative style of the book. It was written to be read aloud or at least for the reader to be very cognizant of the narrator's voice. The narrator speaks to the reader, adds additional commentary outside the scope of the main plot and asks questions about the reader's knowledge or thoughts on a particular point. As I read the book aloud to my daughter, I tried to be sure to add the inflections of the narrator as I read to try and draw her in to answering the questions or commenting on the points the narrator made. In reading the book I pictured the narrator as an extension of Ian Fleming and the style existing to put for the feeling of Fleming reading the story to his own children.
As the plot continues, the family finds out more about the very special and magical qualities of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Not only does the car possess special transformative properties (changing into a boat or a plane) but it also seems to have a true mind of its own. It seems to think and feel. And it certainly seems to recognize and love its new family.
The family head off on what should be a simple and fun family picnic at the beach. But after traffic jams, bad turns, rising tides and bad weather, they find themselves lost and on the verge of new trouble as the family stumbles into a gangster hideout. I loved the sense of adventure mixed with the nervous anxiety of wondering just what might happen next. I love the reckless and whimsical attitude of the father as he disregards the danger when forced to choose between making a safe choice or making the right choice...the "good" choice.
As the adventure continues, the children find themselves in the thick of it. And in true "children's literature" style, they do whatever they can to solve the problems on their own and be the heroes of the story. At the same time, the book is titled "Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang" so it's only natural that the car should also share in the heroics (with the aid of his adult drivers).
The edition I read had some cute, whimsical illustrations. I'm told that the original publication (and early reprints) had tons of absolutely wonderful illustrations. I certainly can't discount the fun pictures in the version I read, but I am interested in finding some of the original illustrations, just for enjoyment sake. My daughter loved keeping an eye out for the pictures and made sure I paused and gave her time to study the images intently when they showed up.
All in all this is a simple story and a quick read, which is what should be expected from a children's book. In some ways it's a little dated since some of the concepts and technology are obsolete or incredibly improved in our modern day. Still, it is a very clever and fun story with a lot of ingenuity and imagination. The plot is fresh and fun and definitely enjoyable to younger readers and to adults willing to step back into simpler memories. The thugs and gangsters are definite caricatures and as such it's hard to have any real fear for the safety of the family. Though to a child, just the idea of a gangster or criminal poses enough danger to give the proper degree of tension.
The story is absolutely charming. The narrative writing style is very fun and lovable. The characters are great fun and the lessons learned are entertaining. Overall this is a great heartfelt story that is worth reading with kids and reading again as an adult. Even if you've seen the movie, this book is different enough that you should find plenty of new entertainment. And if you haven't seen the movie, that's another avenue to explore after reading the book. Either way, there's plenty of opportunity for good clean family fun.
4 out of 5 stars
Most people know this story because of the United Artists film with Dick Van Dyke; that's how I know it. What some people don't know is that this children's novel was written by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame. It is very British which is what you would expect from Fleming. It's only flaw is that the author writes "down" to children so the bad guys aren't so bad and the family is never put in to much danger. The characters are very sure of themselves, especially the children, and they are smarter than the villains. Fleming over compensates to protect the children reading the novel. I don't want more sex and violence but you don't need to coddle children that much.
I found this little book at the local library sale and had to give it a try. It is a sweet tale about a happy adventurous British family and their magical car. Although it has flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The story is fun and light hearted. It's a lovely family novel.
Although it was written in the '60s, it comes across as quite relevant in our day. It was read to my brother and I in the 60s, hearing it now, I can see why
The only thing familiar from the movie I love so much was the car and the kids' names, everything else is different, no grandpa, no Truly, no child catcher or Baron. It was
I’m still trying to get over how different this was than what I was expecting; it is more similar to the Bond stories than the musical movie is. There are crooks and their hideout and trying to get away. This was a fun book but just know it is nothing like the movie of your childhood.
David Tennant's narration was fabulous though, great accents and voices and characters! Tennant’s narration made this book even better.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang wasn’t one of my favorite movies as a child, but I did watch it from time to time. As a bookish person, I couldn’t help being curious about the book upon which the film was based. Learning that the
I can see why children would still delight in this story. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love a car that could fly you to a beach just for your family or sail you to France? From a child’s perspective, I’m sure the adventures within Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are exciting and capture the imagination. It even concludes with the kids rescuing a chocolate shop from gangsters. So sure, I guess I can see why this is a classic and still getting new editions.
At the same time, though, I didn’t particularly enjoy Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The writing’s really antiquated, which probably shouldn’t have surprised me, but I just was not prepared. It’s not written in a particularly accessible way. Infodumps abound as the author and the father explain things to the kids. There’s no tension in the moments meant to be scary. It’s all very dull and yet full of exclamation points in a cheap attempt to convey emotion. The title should also really be CHITTY-CHITTY–BANG-BANG, since that’s how the car’s name is written every single time.
I also have some difficulty accepting the premise that the gangsters, in recompense for the family Pott blowing up their stash, would kidnap the kids to assist them in robbing a chocolate shop. Even if the chocolate shop owner is incredibly wealthy, would he really keep all of his money in the lockbox in his store? This isn’t generally how shops operate. From an adult perspective, this is ludicrous. Kids might not question that, but I’m rolling my eyes.
Though the edition is gorgeous, perhaps my biggest problem above all of this was the art. I do not like John Burningham’s illustrations. His Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is pretty cool and the cover of this edition definitely lured me. However, his people are awful. It’s stylistic, sure, but not one that appeals to me.
I just can’t handle the art at all. They look so bad to me and did not help me to enjoy the story. They’re a bit similar in style to Quentin Blake, but even more spare. I love Quentin Blake because they just fit perfectly and these simplistic illustrations do not dovetail with Fleming’s verbose novel.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang isn’t a classic I would recommend too highly for adults. The magic definitely was not there for me, but it might have been if I’d been a young reader.
It came as a surprise to me that Ian Fleming, the creator of 007, and himself a member of the Intelligence
The plot is about a simple, poor, British inventor that sells (or licenses) his candy invention/recipe to Skrumshus (sic) Limited, the candy company, buys a soon-to-be-scrapped former race car, and, after restoring it to health, goes on holiday and adventure with his family. In the Adventure holiday, they discover the car’s magical personality, bring criminals to justice, and make lifelong friends.
Fleming writes with an avuncular style, throwing in educational tidbits and humorous asides. It is almost like he wrote a clean spy novel for children. I smiled at his wit throughout the story and I am loaning the book to my elementary-school-aged grandchildren. It is a book worthy of out-loud reading, and, indeed, I read it out loud to my own children when they were younger.
Lastly, John Burningham’s illustrations are straightforward, deft, and beautiful.