Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
|Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Caractacus Potts has invented a whistling sweet, and at last the family can afford a motor car. They don't want the usual black box-on-wheels everyone else is driving, but something with a bit of character and individuality. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang certainly has all that — and more!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 154||Date: May 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
You can't help envying Jeremy and Jemima Potts. Not only do their family own a magical car, but they have wonderful parents, too. Imagine the scene. Only this morning you found out that your car has features which definitely aren't standard on the average Range Rover or hatchback, and now you're in the middle of the English Channel, busy escaping a horrible death by drowning. Do your parents suddenly decide that seeing as you're halfway there, you might as well all go to France for a holiday, even though you don't have passports, clean socks or French money? Hmm. Thought not.
The original book by Ian Fleming about the wondrous car has to a large extent been eclipsed by the stage show and the film. Admit it—can you hear the title of this book without wanting to burst into song? But the book has undeniable charms, and is none the worse for its avuncular tone and dated references to things like aerodromes (and buying a car for a thousand pounds!). It harks back to a simpler England, when the summer holidays was a time of constant sunshine and delight, and going down to the coast for a day was a rare treat. The children are brave and polite, never complaining about their poverty (which is in fact somewhat relative, as they both go to boarding school); the father is determined and resourceful, and the mother kind and caring. The villains (for there are some!) are suitably and stereotypically wicked, and when it's all over and the day is won, the police are perfectly happy to accept the word of an English gentleman about how the bad men were caught. It's warm, fuzzy, feel-good fare and every child should read it.
In fact, despite its comfortable post-war ethos of family values, Fleming's only book for children wasn't published until 1964, the year its creator died. It was written for his son Caspar, and occasionally the paternal desire to reassure and instruct can be heard, as in the scene where a brief lesson on radar interrupts the drama of hundreds of bats flying above the family's heads. The story (which, please note, only barely resembles the plot of the film) was inspired by a real car, a beautiful machine built by Count Zborowski on his estate near Canterbury. Sadly, Fleming himself never saw the book finally published, dying from a heart attack on his son's twelfth birthday.
It is a charming tale, as English as tea and scones or a day on the beach at Dover. And it has a simple message, too: take the chance for adventure when it presents itself, even if there is some risk.
James Bond would definitely agree.
It's only fitting to recommend a book by Roald Dahl to follow this—after all, he wrote the screenplay for the film. Bookbag enjoyed George's Marvellous Medicine.
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