The return of everyone’s flying car

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce

When Mr Tooting is made redundant, he decides he needs a project and, with son Jem’s help, they rebuild an ancient old camper van. Then the plan is to go globe-trotting in it. It needs new vintage sparkplugs though despite all their travails. Off they go to a special scrap yard, where they find a different rather large engine old instead.  Fitted successfully, they set off for France – Mum has always wanted to visit Paris however, it soon becomes clear that the new engine has a mind of its own. Before they know it they’re flying and they land on the top of the Eiffel Tower, causing a sensation – Ooh la la!

This is the first adventure on a whirlwind tour that will take in more sights and an encounter with a nasty Nanny and her charge, but one thing is for certain – the engine is in control for Chitty is searching for her missing parts.

This is a splendidly visual story for children from 8 or 9 upwards, made more so by great illustrations by Joe Berger accompanying the text.  There is no need to have read Ian Fleming’s original story (I haven’t), or to have seen the 1968 film scripted by Roald Dahl, (which differs significantly from the book). The members of the Tooting family are all recognisable types: The Dad who always has a plan; the calming Mum; the Goth but brainy teenager daughter; the gadget mad son; the perceptive but he’s too young to recognise it toddler.

In a nice touch of authenticity, Boyce has gone back to the origins of Fleming’s inspirations for Chitty – a series of aero-engined cars designed in the 1920s by Count Louis Zborowski.  The Tootings live in Zborowski Drive, and his name crops up all over the place as Chitty is rebuilt.

I must admit that as an adult, I preferred the build-up to their later troubles, but children will love it. (6.5/10)

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce