Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Ian Fleming
narrated by David Tennant
(fantasy, children’s fiction)
First off, I guess I need to say that I love the movie version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Always have. It’s just good clean family fun, and I suppose it can be considered a movie musical. (I never really thought of it that way, but I suppose it is.) And I love the music for it, so that’s helpful. And second, I have to say that I have read the book before, too. So I knew what was going to happen in this audiobook before it did.
But it was still worth the listen. (For those who are already fans of the book, I suppose I should have started that sentence instead like this: “But. But… and again but!” And my apologies that the punctuation may not match what is in print. It’s hard to tell punctuation from an audiobook.)
As to the audiobook version specifically, David Tennant is a joy to listen to. And somehow, while I love him as Doctor Who, I can listen to him read a non-Who audiobook without thinking that the Doctor is reading me a story. I’ve listened to several of his audiobooks now, and the only ones that have felt like Doctor Who to me have been the Doctor Who books. (However, if you WANT the Doctor to read you a story, David Tennant uses an accent very similar to his Doctor for audiobook narration so you can have that your way, too.)
And the book itself? Well, I love how much more of a character Chitty is in the book than the movie. In the movie, yes: she’s a magical car. But she’s a magical car that is mostly put together by Mr. Potts. In the book… well. She has plenty of magic without any help at all. I do love that in both versions Chitty needs rescuing from the scrap heap.
There are times during the book that I was reminded that it was an older book, but that was mostly due to the way things were described or the way people acted. For the most part, the book stands the test of time without any need for a reminder of the time period. The British terms are also not hard to pick up, and I think even children (who the book was written for, after all) would find both the time period difference and (since I’m American, I’m talking about American children here) the cultural differences easy enough to follow. Mr. Flemming does a great job of explaining the things that might be odd, and the rest can be inferred easily from context.
This is a great story. You can see the same imagination here that created all those spy stories, even though it has a very different tone from Bond. The action parts are well-paced, and his use of sounds is wonderful. I highly recommend it for all ages.