June 24, 2013

A magical car retstarts its engine

By Frank Cottrell Boyce
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Many readers know the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the story of a flying car that saves the Pott family from gangsters. However, few readers may be aware that the book’s publication in 1964 occurred a few months after the death of its author, Ian Fleming—yes, that Ian Fleming, who also created James Bond.

Two years ago, Fleming's family commissioned Frank Cottrell Boyce, of Millions and Cosmic fame, to write a sequel. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again (2012) retained the British charm of the original book, and Boyce follows that entry with Chitty Chitty Bang Band Rides Again, which ups the level of adventure—and stands on its own for those who haven't read the previous entries in this magical series.

Chitty’s new owners, the biracial Tooting family comprised of Dad, Mum, Jem, Lucy and Little Harry, have discovered a “Chronojuster” lever on Chitty, which allows them to time travel. At the story’s start, the Tootings find themselves in the Cretaceous period with a hungry Tyrannosaurus rex ready to devour them. Amid lively banter among the Tootings, the ever quick-acting Chitty rescues his family again. While the Tootings set a course to find the Potts and save the world from evil supervillains, Nanny and Tiny Jack, Chitty, always the real one in control, steers them all to 1920’s New York City and the Prohibition Era.

As the Tootings hobnob with Duke Ellington and Count Bassie, they meet Chitty’s first owner, Count Zborowski, who’s set to drive in the Prix d’Esmerelda’s Birthday Cake. Boys in particular will appreciate the race’s death-defying moments and the continued mad-cap escapades, chases, kidnappings and narrow escapes.

And as the Tootings are whisked away once more to 16th century Amazon and a lost city of gold, Chitty goes from Bang Bang to “Bling Bling.” Boyce leaves the ending open for another sequel and time to read (or reread) the original.

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