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4.6 out of 5 stars
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
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VINE VOICEon April 11, 2014
Format: Audio CD
I went into this book thinking it was going to be sort of like the movie but boy was I surprised to find out that the movie though it has a little bit of the book in it is very far from the movie.

Mr. Potts is not widowed but married with his two children. Chitty was a motor car who won races and it was after Mr. Potts invented the toot sweet candy that he made money and was able to buy a car and bought Chitty. One day they decided to all go to Dover beach and on the way they got stuck in traffic and this is when Chitty shows them she is not an ordinary car as she fly's into the air and takes them to the beach.

Unlike the movie version Chitty takes the Potts on an adventure after criminals. They travel to France and find a cave with ammunition in there that belongs to some bad men and Chitty wants to take them down. Joe the Monster and his cronies don't know who they are messing with when they run into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Over all it was a really cute children story and I recommend it for everyone!

The Narrator

I have loved David Tennant ever since I seen him play the Doctor on Doctor Who.(He was my favorite!) He had such an expressive voice even when playing the Doctor, so I knew he would convey that into his narration and it really makes the book come alive. I love the way he does the voices of each character and puts so much emotion into them to really make it enjoyable. I think both adults and children will love the way he narrates.

I really hope he continues to do more novels from children's to adults as he has a great voice for narration. I noticed that he does some Doctor Who books and I really want to get my hands on some of those just to hear him narrate.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is not a new book, as you probably already know. It was originally published in 1968 and was written by Ian Fleming, who also created the James Bond character in his books of the same name.

The book is very very well written, but my daughter had difficulty enjoying the book due to a lot of terms that she was unfamiliar with. British landmarks are very commonly used in the first part of the book, as well as words like "petrol" for gas and "bonnet" for the hood of the car. Of course, this is really a British book imported to the American market, and I like it that way. By my daughter did put it down in the middle, politely stating that it was a good book, and hasn't come back to it.

I read it cover to cover of course, and it is a great book and very amusing. It has a lot of artwork to go along with the story... I don't know if this is from the original edition or if its been made for this edition, but, I really liked the artwork and felt that it added a lot to the story. In one part where they are in a dark cave, the entire page is black and the words are white. This might seem cool to some younger readers.

I will finish the book with my daughter, as a read-aloud book (we still do these this from time to time). I would give it 4 stars because I think most kids could figure out the words that are used in an unfamiliar way. Its a fun read and not too long, great for the summer. But, you should not give this book to a struggling reader. I think the unfamiliar terms might make it hard for them to have fun with it. Anyway, just jump and trust your luck if you like :)

The book also promotes a chitty chitty bang bang website which I haven't checked out.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG was the first chapter book I read and I was so thrilled that I actually understood it, I read it again several times, perhaps fearing that it was a fluke and that I wouldn't understand other chapter books. It didn't hurt that I liked the story itself, but I was more enthralled with just the fact that I could really read.

So when I got the opportunity to read the original book along with brand new illustrations, I jumped at the chance, especially now that I have my own kids who are rapidly approaching the age I was when I read the book. With the benefit of 30+ more years of experience, I can't say as I found the book quite so enchanting this time around, but it was a nice stroll down memory lane.

The story is told in a very British children's storytelling style, similar to the Narnia books. The story is told by a lively narrator with several humorous asides to the clearly intelligent children reading his story. It is the story of the rather eccentric Pott family, headed by Commander Caractacus Pott, an inventor by trade whose fortune is dependent on the success (or, more often, the lack thereof), of his latest harebrained idea, such as whistling candies. His wife, Mimsie, is much more practical, and their children, Jeremy and Jemima are curious and adventurous like their father but also sensible like their mother.

The family comes into a bit of money and decides that a means of transportation would be a wise investment. After examining a number of boring, very similar plain black vehicles, they come across an old, broken down former race car slated for destruction. They decide to "rescue" her, and, much like a pet rescued from a shelter, they expect that "she" will be grateful to them for doing so.

Commander Pott spends weeks alone in his shop tinkering with the old girl until he reveals a fully-restored streamlines roadster, who promptly gets named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the sound she makes upon start up. Naturally, the family just has to go for a trip in their new vehicle, and what better than a day at the beach? Unfortunately, it appears everyone else had the same idea and the roads are too crowded to ever reach the beach. Fortunately, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has some tricks up her fender that even the Commander is unaware of. Along the way the family narrowly escapes a sandbar at high tide, discovers a cave full of weapons and explosives and saves Europe from the scourge of Joe the Monster and his gang. All in a day's adventure.

From an adult point of view well into the twenty-first century, this book is, at best, quaint. The adventures are improbable, the characters are caricatures. But nonetheless, there's something fancy-catching about the book even today. Perhaps the simple, child-friendly good vs. evil theme, perhaps the refreshingly pure and honest Pott family, or perhaps Chitty Chitty Bang Bang herself. This book is one of those rare books that manages to be both wholesome and exciting - sure to appeal to young readers without worrying their parents.

The new drawings - black and white pen and ink work - are also a treat. They bring the book to life in a fun and imaginative way. Some of the drawings take up only a portion of one page, but many spread across two pages, blending the words and pictures into a seamless whole.

It appears that this book was reintroduced as a prologue to introducing some new works starring Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but by a new author. I'm always a little leery reading new works based on old characters - it always feels like an encroachment into someone else's territory. So I'm not sure whether I'll read these new additions or not. But this stroll down memory lane, accompanied by Joe Berger's illustrations, encourages me and the possibility is at least open.
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VINE VOICEon June 6, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Wow! I love Ian Fleming's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." I had always been a fan of the film, when as a child I had watched it on television whenever I knew it was being broadcast, and now more recently, and astonishingly on the spectacular Blu-ray release, and I am sincerely swept away by the original story, and its masterful writing style that Ian Fleming produced with this classic children's book.

This is the story of retired Commander of the Royal Navy Caractacus Pott, his wife Mimsie and their twin children Jeremy and Jemima and an adventure that ensues when the family acquires, or rather rescues, a Paragon Panther, which they name Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, that turns out to be quite the magical car.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang does not hesitate to bypass holiday traffic in a magnificent way, and she does everything she can to see to it that the Pott family picnic is as special as it can be. However, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's adventurous spirit brings the Pott family, who are no less afraid of adventure, into further peril when they stumble upon a secret that uncovers a dangerous adventure, involving a gang of criminals who have eluded authorities for years.

This story is so captivatingly well-written. Ian Fleming's writing is concisely descriptive, painting an exquisitely detailed image of the characters involved, the action that takes place and the environments in which the story unfolds.

Joe Berger's illustrations are stylistically fitting to Fleming's writing; the sketches are distributed among significant character introductions and key settings - the lighting and shadow in that of The Goodwin Sands makes a spitting image of a low-tide sandy beach...it's a simple, but beautiful sketch.

"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is a fast-paced, thrill packed adventure, with a sweet "Fooj" ending that is sure to be treasured by all who go along for the ride. It's a fun-filled story, with a swift and steady continuity crafted around an impeccable attention to detail. Joe Berger's illustrations are faithful interpretations of Ian's creativity.

I would recommend "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" to everyone! It's a fantastic story, even for, or perhaps especially for, those who are already familiar with the theatrical version inspired by this book. I love it, and I am quite pleased with having chosen this book.
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Pott family is well known as being "crackpots". But even they are surprised when the wreck of a car they buy turns out to be magical. It seems that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can swim and fly and these are just a few of her surprises. The Pott family is delighted with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but even they don't realize how special she is or how they'll need her in times of danger.

For some reason, although I did see the movie, I never read "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" as a kid and was curious to see what Ian Fleming's only book for children was like. I had a mixed reaction. If I was still a kid of course I would love the idea of a car that both flies and swims (what a great way to get to and from the beach). The book is just a bit absurd but I do think kids will love it as the magical elements are nicely done. The illustrations are also nicely done with a particularly great couple of pages illustrating the scariness of a cave the Pott family finds. What didn't I like about the book? First it doesn't always feel like a children's book - the story might be magical but the writing isn't always. Instead of letter the story tell itself, Fleming often comes across as an adult trying to write a children's book and subsequently I never really felt pulled into the story. The writing comes across as stilted and a bit disjointed (I've since learned the book was originally published in three segments which may explain the disjointedness). The other thing I really didn't like was the irresponsibility of the elder Potts. Again, as a child I probably would have loved it but the adult in me cringed at some of the actions (or inactions) of the older Potts.

Children will love "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"; adults maybe not so much.
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As a 40-something mom my knowledge of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the 1968 musical movie starring Dick Van Dyke, which I watched annually as a child. I had not read the book as a child or as an adult, although it would have been a good read aloud for my sons, I now know.

This is the only book that Ian Fleming has published for children, a story he wrote for his son, originally published in 1964. If the name is not familiar, he is the inventor of James Bond, 007. This story is typical of a boy story of its time, with a focus on action and adventure. Here the main character is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a supposedly magical car who has abilities that its inventor crackpot owner did not put into place or know about until various crises occurred. Actually the car is a genius of engineering so kids interested in cars or cool machinery will enjoy it (not far from the cool gadgets of Fleming's James Bond character.) Two are its ability to fly and to float atop the water as a boat. The adventures occur in England and France.

Some differences with the movie are that this is about a happy, intact family with mother, father, and twins, a boy and a girl. There is no grandfather (and no pretty girlfriend named Trudy). The movie seemed to be more about the human relationships while the book with its short page count and high action and adventure focuses on that action not on getting to know any of the human characters much. In the movie the Dictator of the country of Vulgaria stole the car out of envy and in this tale there is a mobster with a gang of thieves who the Potts family discovers and leads to a kidnapping of the children, as was a feature in the movie.

I enjoyed Fleming's storytelling style and his unique voice. Some of the terms are old-fashioned and others are England-centric, this adds to the story's tone and style. I liked it when the chapters ended on a cliff-hanger, these are loved by boys especially and also they draw in reluctant readers (especially boys). I think this would make a fun read aloud to children. This is a good vs. evil story, the good guys versus the criminals.

Candlewick Press issued this new edition of the old story with new illustrations by Joe Berger. They also have published two sequels penned by a different author, Frank Cottrell Boyce: CCBB Flies Again and CCBB and The Race Against Time. All three are illustrated by Joe Berger. I have not read those two sequels yet.

This would be a great read-aloud or a book that kids ages 9-12 can read to themselves. I feel this would be interest to reluctant reader boys who like action tales and the idea of cars that can do cool things.

I rate this story 5 stars = I Love It.
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VINE VOICEon May 30, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My review is not of the classic text by Ian Fleming, but rather of the Candlewick Press edition of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car." This has been a wonderful book for younger children since it was first published in 1964, the year of the author's death. I was in college when the book was released. I did not read it until I was a mother, when I read it to my young son as a bedtime serial. While I think it is entertaining, it does not hold the same place in my heart as other classics, such as "The Wind in the Willows."

Candlewick Press has reissued the book, and sequels by author Frank Cottrell Boyce, in uniform paperback editions, with illustrations by British artist Joe Berger. The books are somewhere between mass market paperbacks and trade editions in size. The paper is nice, heavy stock that will hold up to young hands. The front and back covers are in color, primarily in shades of green and yellow, while the illustrations inside the book are all black and white. The illustrations are very cartoonish in nature, and in my opinion neither add nor detract from the text -- they are simply "there." They are better than not having any illustrations at all, but they are not inspiring or unique. One two page spread has the text in white on a black background -- on the right hand side of the page is a skeleton hanging from a noose. That picture might be possibly frightening for the youngest members of the audience. The price points are reasonable for the book, and for under $25.00 one could purchase the entire set for a young reader.

The illustrations for paperback reissues of children's classics is an on-going issue for many readers, especially those who read the books when they were originally published -- in other words, in 2013, the parents and grandparents of young readers. There was an outcry a few years ago when the publishers of Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books replaced the wonderful illustrations of Garth Williams with cheesy staged photographs of unknown child models. Sometimes it has to do with legal issues with the illustrator or the illustrator's estate, and in other cases it seems to be on the whim of the publisher. Some parents and grandparents will have no issues with Joe Berger's cartoonish illustrations, while others might wish for something more artistic and elegant. The child readers probably will not care.
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VINE VOICEon April 30, 2013
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a completely entertaining, charming, exciting story. I remember seeing the movie when my kids were little, but don't remember anything about the movie except that the car flew. I had not known that there was a real car called Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang that was built for speed records until I read the one page intro describing it!

When Caractacus Pott invented a candy that let you whistle as you sucked on it, he sold it to a local candy company for cash and a royalty. His family had never had a car, so he and wife Mimsie and 8 year old twins Jemima and Jeremy went out to buy a car. As Mr Pott was an inventor, he carefully examined every car he looked at and ended at an old garage where the owner wanted to show him an old wreck of a car that was going to be crushed the next week. It had been a wonderful, beautiful race car in its past. His family looked and looked at it, and all agreed that Mr Pott should buy and restore it, which he did!

He bought parts and paint and whatever he needed and finally had his family come look at it. They were all very pleased, even though he said that there were a lot of dials on the dashboard that he had no idea what they were for.

The week-end was nice so they decided to go to the beach for a picnic. Unfortunately, so had about thousands of other families. They were poking along and thinking that they'd never get to the beach when a light went on which said, 'Pull'. He looked at it and another light went on which said, 'Idiot, pull'! He did, and the next thing they knew, the car put out wings and started flying, and pulling in the wheels! The family grabbed and held on but realized that they were fine as they flew over the line of cars.

The great adventure starts, and they end up on the beach and then into a cave in France which is booby-trapped, where many things happen. I don't want to go into more detail, but it's exciting and fun to read.

The book I read was a trade paperback, published in 2013, 144 pages, (It was first published in 1964.) The last two pages have only one sentence on them! It's a fast read, and many pages have sketches on them. I enjoyed it very much and I've great grandchildren! It's also available as an e-book. The book is for ages 9-12, but if you read to your children, younger ones would like it.

I highly recommend it.
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I'm actually old enough that my first exposure to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang came through the original book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang The Magical Car, The Wild Adventures of a Spirited British Family by Ian Fleming, illustrated by John Burningham (1964 Hardcover 114 pages Random House), which I've still got somewhere, and I can remember being bitterly disappointed by the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I first saw in a drive in theater (ask your grandparents what that was), because it was nothing like the book.

Over the years I gradually warmed up to the movie version, and I hadn't read the book in over forty years so while I eagerly leaped at the chance to try this new edition, deep down I wondered if it would measure up to my treasured childhood memories.

I need not have worried. Here is Ian Fleming of James Bond fame in all his genius; a not so typical 1960's era British family acquires a not so typical car and proceeds to have several (short) splendid adventures: picnicking on the infamous Goodwin Sands, exploring a creepy secret cave, and foiling some gangsters. One only wishes there could have been more. As a matter of fact there have been a couple more authorized by the Fleming estate and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time, but never having seen them, I cannot say much about them.

Note: Unlike some reviewers I was not overly upset by the commissioning of new illustrations uniform with the sequels, in part because IMHO John Burningham's were the weakest part of the original book. However, if they were going to make the change, I would have preferred that they got someone who drew BETTER than Burningham, and I really don't think Jo Berger does.

Note: As mentioned in Ian Fleming's note at the beginning, this story was inspired by a REAL racing car, Chitty-Bang-Bang # 1, the first of four custom built race cars of the same name:

"Chitty 1 was a chain-driven customized Mercedes chassis containing a 23-liter 6-cylinder Maybach aero-engine. It won two races at its debut at Brooklands in 1921, coming second to another Zborowski car in a sprint race at the same event. Chitty 1 was fitted with four seats and a crude, over-sized exhaust pipe, in order to misguide the handicappers and spectators. Its top speed on the day was 100.75 miles per hour (162.14 km/h).

For its next outing, Chitty 1 was refitted, as a two-seater with a cowled radiator and a properly plumbed exhaust. It attained nearly 120 mph (190 km/h) on one occasion and had its race handicap consistently reappraised. It subsequently crashed, removing three fingers from a timing official. The car was rebuilt, and passed into the ownership of the sons of Arthur Conan Doyle, but was quickly retired as a racing car, and was later bought for spare parts by John Morris, the Maybach engine being offered to W. Boddy, editor of Motor Sport."

"No doubt inspiring the Ian Fleming children's book, Count Louis Vorow Zborowski was the real personage responsible for the original Chitty-Bang-Bang (two hyphens, one less Chitty). Indeed, there were several of these huge aero-engine racing cars commissioned by this Polish-American sportsman in post-WWI England. Apologists excused the cars' name as conveying the sound of an aero engine at idle; others recognized it as part of a bawdy Royal Flying Corps ballad.

Chitty-Bang-Bang I had a 6-cylinder Maybach Zeppelin engine displacing 23,093 cc, each of its pistons about 6.5 in. across, its four overhead valves per cylinder operated by exposed pushrods and rockers. Chitty II's Benz engine displaced 'only' 18,882 cc. These chain-drive giants pounded around the famed Brooklands circuit at more than 100 mph--and also had extensive road use. Chitty I was later owned by Denis and Adrian Conan Doyle, sons of the Sherlock Holmes creator. Chitty II made an appearance at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance as recently as 2007."
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Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Ian Fleming's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" has been a favorite of mine for decades, and I even named my latest car after the book's inventor, Caractacus Pott. My first introduction to the story was via the 1968 movie, which I loved, but I discovered Fleming's original book a bit later and took to it instantly, reading it to my son (and then his fourth-grade class) years later. The movie deviates from the book in significant ways, but the underlying themes are very similar.

The book has been reprinted in various ways over the years. The original illustrations were by John Burningham, and they are wonderful. The book has been reissued (and rewritten a couple of times) over the years, but with rather awful illustrations. Now we have another version with all of Fleming's original text but illustrations by Joe Berger. Why? Candlewick Press has also published two sequels, written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and also illustrated by Berger, so they redid the original as part of the new series.

I have only words of praise for Fleming's story - it should appeal to children of all ages as well as adults. The story is exciting, the car truly magical, and the characters delightfully ordinary. The writing doesn't "talk down" to kids and all of the characters behave plausibly - at least as much as they can in the presence of such a car as CCBB. Berger's illustrations are pretty good. They're black and white pen-and-ink drawings, much like Burningham's, but I find they lack some of the older illustrations' charms. Burningham used a variety of visual techniques that set the mood - Berger's are smaller and more alike. It also bugs me that he has drawn Caractacus and Mimsie as young and movie-star attractive when Burningham had them as classical English country folk, older and pudgier.

I haven't read the sequels - my experience with new authors turning cherished books into a franchise is uniformly negative - but this new edition is perfectly acceptable if you want to buy the whole series, or if you can't get or don't want to buy the original 1964 hardcover (I got mine from an independent bookseller through Amazon - see CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG The Magical Car, The Wild Adventures of a Spirited British Family by Ian Fleming, illustrated by John Burningham Just promise me that you'll share it with a child - or two! Oh, and the movie is great too!
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