I recently read and reviewed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, by Ian Fleming over at Reading to Know. My thoughts on this new title follow closely on the heels of my shared opinion of the original work.
I was sent a copy of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Candlewick Press in exchange for my honest review and opinion of it. In preparation for reading this new releases, I read the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to orient myself to the character which is this car. I simply adored the original book and plan on reading it aloud to my boys in very short order. It’s a true delight and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
When I sat down with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again I wasn’t sure what to expect as Frank Cottrell Boyce takes over the story telling of Ian Fleming, providing a more modern, updated story of this magical car. Fleming is quite witty and although his storyline is implausible, you really want to believe it because he has a knack for telling a fanciful tale. In this new and inspired story about Chitty Chitty, Boyce places the vehicle in the care of the Tooting family. Mr. Tooting has recently lost his job and finds delight in tinkering around with a used vehicle his wife purchases for him. Through a series of events, Tooting finds Chitty Chitty’s motor at a junk yard. Once the motor is placed into Mr. Tooting’s vehicle, the engine takes over and Chitty Chitty is bent on finding all of the pieces of herself which are scattered about the globe so that she can be put back together again and achieve her former glory.
Boyce’s story is just as improbable as Fleming’s but I do have to say that Fleming has more skill as a writer. It didn’t feel as if Fleming was being silly for silly sake, while it does feel that way with Boyce. So while I could easily appreciate what Boyce is attempting to do with this story, it was a struggle for me to get through. I cannot say that there is anything outright bad about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again. The dad is a bit of hairbrained nitwit and so I found it hard to admire or respect him. I rather dislike stories wherein the dad is treated like something of an idiot. The Tooting family has more behaviors similar to what you might see in a modern family so perhaps they would be more easily identified with than the Potts family of the original. I also dislike the name Tooting because that just seems like potty humor and once you’ve stooped to that level you’ve pretty much lost me. But really what it comes down to is that I like the charm of the original story and I don’t think Boyce managed to capture the heart of Fleming’s work.
This is not to say that I do not believe this book is worth anyone’s time, necessarily. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again is a very cutesy tale and it is imaginative. (I always like a good, imaginative story!) If it serves to point people in any way back to the original then I think it serves a great purpose. And for those of you who do not mind a new author picking up where an old one left off then you have good reasons to believe you might enjoy this new story.
My personal opinion is that it wasn’t the greatest book in the world but neither is it the worst by any stretch of one’s imagination. I think I just like to keep an original author’s story telling and memory sacred as a general rule and that presented road blocks for my enjoying this new version of Chitty Chitty. And them, as they say, are me thoughts!
Many thanks to Candlewick Press for giving me a chance to read this new title in exchange for my honest opinion.
Carrie blogs about books – many of the classic variety – over at Reading to Know.