Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

by Ian Fleming

Hardcover, 2003



Local notes

Fic Fle





Random House Books for Young Readers (2003), Edition: Second Edition, 150 pages


"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 language


Original publication date


Physical description

150 p.; 5.75 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member theokester
I watched the movie Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang as a child and have vaguely fun and yet confusing memories of it. To this day I still find some of the tunes from the movie jumping into my head at random. Years later I was told that the original book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang was written by Ian
Show More
Fleming...yes, the same Ian Fleming who was the creator of James Bond. Naturally my curiosity was aroused. From a very high level, it's not surprising to see both James Bond and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang as being creations of the same author. Both feature some crazy high-tech gadgets and exciting adventures dealing with spies or thugs across multiple countries. Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang is just written for children while James Bond was written for adults.

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
Show Less
LibraryThing member LA12Hernandez
The only thing the same about the book and the movie is the name. I enjoyed the story in the book and think it would make a great movie. But it is so different from the movie that it would have to have a different name. maybe Gen ii, The name of the car in the book. It is a fun book to read.
LibraryThing member bjplaetzer
#31 in collection cataloged by Beth @ about age 9. Owner's name appears upper right directly inside cover (Note: extra humps on the m's blotted out). Fudge recipe w/ Grandma Hammer's measurements for doubling found @ end of book. Movie nothing nearly as enchanting as the book.
LibraryThing member craso
The Potts are an unusual family. Father Pott, Royal Navy Commander Caractacus Pott, is an inventor. Mimsi and the twins, Jimmy and Jemima, never know what wonderful new invention will come out of his workshop. One day he presents his children with a fantastic new treat; a candy that whistles. They
Show More
take it to the local candy manufacturer who buys it for one thousand British pounds. They use the money to buy a car. It's not in the best of shape, but the children know the car is magical because the license plate is GEN II. Caractacus works on restoring the car and when he is done the whole family piles in and they head out to a picnic at the beach. When Caractacus starts the automobile the engine coughs and sputters "chitty-chitty-bang-bang" and that's how it gets it's name. On the road the traffic gets heavy because it's a beautiful day and everyone is headed to the seaside. Good thing the car can fly!

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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kathryn123
This novel was about a family who's dad is an inventor and creates things for a living. When their father decides that its time for the family to have a new change, he finds that what the family needs is a new car. When he finds Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in a garage that has just been sitting up for
Show More
a long time, he decides to take the advantage and see what the car has to offer. since the family is so different from everyone else, he thought that this car would be perfect for the family. Later in the book they soon start to figure out that this isnt just an ordinary car, but also flies and does many other amazing things and you dont really have to control the car it wants to work on its own.
Show Less
LibraryThing member simchaboston
A truly charming adventure, this was lots of fun to read aloud and left me wishing Fleming had done more children's books, not just James Bond novels. I do love the cool gadgets sported by the magical car, including an early version of GPS. The only flaw is the drawings ... they seem somewhat
Show More
cartoonish and one of the illustrations doesn't match what happens in the story, so I want to find the original and see if those are more suitable.
Show Less
LibraryThing member MrsLee
This is the story of an extraordinary family and the very special car they decide to adopt. They get up to some amazing shenanigans together.

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
Show More
my mother chose to read it to my brother and I. It is a terrific book for boys who really aren't into stories or reading but are into anything to do with vehicles. As a young girl, when my mother read it to us, I loved it for the adventures. Now, as a mother of grown children, I find myself interacting with it a lot. I laugh, I gasp at some of the predicaments, I answered the questions when they are posed. Tennant is wonderful at reading, but I'm also quite impressed with the writing of the book. Perfect for a read aloud and a lot of fun.
Show Less
LibraryThing member susiesharp
Well I have discovered that my favorite movie from childhood is only Very Loosely based on Ian Fleming's book of the same name.

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
Show More
very odd to have it be familiar yet not at the same time.

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.

4 Stars
Show Less
LibraryThing member aadyer
An enjoyable romp involving a magical car, a very English post war family & some gangsters. Interesting, obviously has some value as the only children's book of Ian Flemings but also will have some interest to the mid aged children. I think teenagers & young adults will find this beneath
Show More
Show Less
LibraryThing member mercedesromero
This book is enjoyable for those children who are beginning to read due to it's excessive amounts of repetition.
LibraryThing member mirikayla
Totally different from the movie. Outlandish in the same way the James Bond books are outlandish, but not creepy and bizarre in the way of the movie (which—don't get me wrong—I love for its weirdness and Dick Van Dyke).
LibraryThing member fuzzi
A childhood favorite that just doesn't work as well as an adult read.
LibraryThing member thornton37814
The Pott family takes a trip to France after Commander Pott restores an old car with seemingly magical powers. The adventures appeal to young readers. The books makes a great read-aloud. However, I think I will always prefer the film starring Dick Van Dyke. I pictured it as I read the book, even
Show More
when the plot differs.
Show Less
LibraryThing member melydia
I mostly picked this up on audio because David Tennant reads it, and he reads it just delightfully. It's a fun little book about a possibly magic car who saves a family from peril. It's very cute and not very much like James Bond at all. I'd probably appreciate it even more if I was into cars.
LibraryThing member A_Reader_of_Fictions
For more reviews, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

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
Show More
kid’s book was by the creator of James Bond only made me more inquisitive. It’s been so long since I saw the movie that I can’t speak to similarities, but I’m fairly certain the book is pretty different. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a nice change of pace, but it’s also a very dated story and not really my thing.

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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jeffome
I just finished a 981-page epic yesterday that took me nearly 4 months to read. I knew i had to switch it up! So, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang it was! I started it last night before bed and finished it today at lunch! As part of my job, I have the privilege and honor of being the caretaker for the real
Show More
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang II - a home-built race car from 1921 with an aircraft engine - that was the inspiration for Fleming's book, and the subsequent movie and Broadway show....but I had never read the book! Shame on me! But that part of my life is behind me. It was delightful......simple plain fun from start to finish....and obviously a quick read (Thank God!!!). I highly recommend. Next up...the movie......which i saw when it came out and never since.....shame on me!
Show Less
LibraryThing member Ghost_Boy
If you're looking for a tale of sex, booze , and spies than this Ian Fleming tale isn't for you. This does have plenty of adventure, secrets, and magic though.
LibraryThing member dandelionsmith
I really enjoyed this book, and probably enjoyed it more than I ever did the movie starring Dick Van Dyke. The movie was “loosely based” on the book, so it’s almost a different story.

It came as a surprise to me that Ian Fleming, the creator of 007, and himself a member of the Intelligence
Show More
Service, was the author of this delightful story. As it happens, this book was in a library of books we bought at an estate sale any years ago.

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.
Show Less
LibraryThing member zot79
Of course it's different than the movie, although I was delighted to read that the characters of Caractactus Pott and his children were there from the beginning. Where the movie has some genuinely dark elements and characters (there is no mother and the child trapper is comically menacing), the
Show More
book does not really. The bad guys are only seen at the end, and then only as brief caricatures that are easily overcome (as are most obstacles in the book).
Show Less
LibraryThing member Crazymamie
I have seen the movie based on this book many times, but I had never read the book, so when I saw it narrated by David Tennant, I snapped it up. This is SO different from the movie! Here Caractacus Pott is already married, and not to Truly Scrumptious (a name worthy of a Bond girl!) His wife's name
Show More
in the book is Mimsie. There is a Lord Skrumshus (I like this spelling better than the movie spelling of it) who owns a candy factory, and Caractacus earns the money to purchase the car we know will be called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by selling him the whistle sweets that he has invented. Chitty is an absolutely marvelous car with all kinds of secrets and amazing abilities, but the story is much simpler than the movie (Roald Dahl helped to wrote the screenplay, so you know where all the larger than life imaginings came from). Both the movie and the book are very fun. Fleming wrote this story for his son Caspar, and he left room for sequels, which he would never get to write because sadly, he died before it was published. Tennant's narration is, of course, full of fabulous.
Show Less
LibraryThing member BarnesBookshelf
What a fun book!! I love the simple language and the easy to follow story. Fleming does an excellent job of including small little educational tidbits that don't detract from the story. In fact, I could see using this story as a jumping off point for some early-childhood type educational materials.
Show More
It's cute and fun, and I for one really want to try the fudge recipe at the end of it! This is one of the first older books I've read that I actually enjoyed, and it's so short it's easy to get through! It's very different from the movie and still incredibly enjoyable.
Show Less




½ (254 ratings; 3.7)
Page: 0.858 seconds