Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again
Frank Cottrell Boyce
Reviewed by Nick Money
Fri, 07/10/2011

This book is a whizz.  A whizz and a hoot.  A whizz and hoot and a blast.

Children will chuckle, adults smile, maybe even LOL. It’s an old-fashioned fantastical yarn, with salt-of-the-earth goodies and glamorous baddies (Tiny Jack, or is he?), centred on the adventures of the Tooting family: Dad the inventor, resourceful Mum, Lucy the teenage goth, energetic Jem, and Little Harry, who yells.  In their restored 1960s VW Samba Campervan, they travel to exotic places from Madagascar to Basildon.  There’s a little romance for Mum and Dad in Paris and car racing for the children on a floating racetrack.

It’s a charming tale, that with a very light touch weaves in important and serious realities, from redundancy to recycling, as well as a sprinkling of learning, such as meteorology in the Atlas mountains and history in Egypt.  The language is fun but precise: “Putting an engine like that into a camper van was like putting the heart of a Tyrannosaurus Rex into a hamster”.

The humour is gently pervasive and key to the characterisation. When the story requires, pace and tension pick up smoothly, but without resorting to easy fright.

This story entranced and entertained an eight, 10 and 12 year old recently, and they have confirmed that they would whole-heartedly recommend it.

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