My Review (5 stars out of 5)
Caractacus Pott and his family don’t have much money, so when they decide to buy a motor car, they end up with one that needs a lot of work to get it into roadworthy condition. But as well as being an explorer, Commander Pott is also an inventor, so he gets to work on the car and very soon the family set off on a trip. But the car – nicknamed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang because of the noises it makes – has a few surprises in store for them…
My parents bought me the paperback version of this book shortly after we saw the movie version forty-odd years ago. The main thing I remember about it are the wonderful illustrations by John Burningham, and the fact that the story is completely different to the film. I don’t recall what happened to my original paperback, so I bought the hardback version recently for a trip down memory lane. While there are numerous other illustrated versions of the book available, none of them have the beauty and imagination that Burningham‘s drawings bring to this one.
Though I’m not a big fan of Ian Fleming (I find his James Bond books impossible to read), it was a real treat to read this again after so many years. The story concerns the Pott family (not Potts, as in the film), headed by Caractacus, his wife Mimsie and their children Jeremy and Jemimah. Following his invention of whistling sweets, Pott is paid a thousand pounds by Lord Skrumshus and decides to invest the money in a car. After the clever commander has fixed it up, they go on an outing to the seaside and discover that not only can the car fly, but it can also float. The family’s adventures take them to France, where they uncover a hoard of stolen goodies and a gang of obnoxious villains.
Although the writing is peppered with way too many exclamation marks, and the children’s roles are rather overshadowed by that of their father, it’s a lovely story, and even includes a recipe for Monsieur Bon-Bon’s Secret Fooj (full of sugar, of course).