Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: A Reader’s Manual

Happy new year – especially to fans of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, who had the pleasure of starting 2021 with a, er, bang.

Chitty Flies Again, a joyful celebration of our favourite flying car presented by David Walliams, aired on New Year’s day and can still be viewed online until the end of the month. If you enjoyed the books or the film as a child (or as an adult!) it’s strongly recommended viewing – the documentary delves into the history of the original Chitty, discusses Ian Fleming’s reasons for writing the story, and even attempts to build a real flying car. Does it work? No spoilers…

If that has whet your appetite for more Chitty, here’s a rundown of all the editions currently available to buy:

The Paperback Edition (Pan Macmillan)
Ian Fleming’s original story, in paperback with lively illustrations by Joe Berger – this is probably the best edition to introduce the small children in your life to Chitty.

The Luxury (Nostalgic) Edition (Folio Society)
If you’re after something a little more swish – perhaps a gift for a grown-up Chitty fan (or for yourself! No judgement here) take a look at this stunning edition from The Folio Society. Containing all the original illustrations by John Burningham, as well as an new afterword by Fergus Fleming and a host of exclusive photographs, this beautifully-bound volume is a bibliophile’s dream.

The Picture Book Edition (Hachette)
Here’s something new – a picture book! With a simplified text adapted by Peter Bently, and gorgeous full-colour illustrations by Steve Antony, this is a wonderful version of the original story, re-told for even younger children. Whilst remaining true to the quirky and adventurous spirit of Fleming’s original, this version features a few modern touches: for example, Chitty herself is now electric and environmentally friendly!

The Gift Editions (Pan Macmillan)
If you are looking for a gift book with a touch of class – but not quite in the Folio Society’s price bracket – Pan Macmillan have published two hardback editions. There’s this perfectly pocket-sized Macmillan Classics edition (with gilt edges!) and then there’s this edition with a special introduction by Frank Cottrell-Boyce. Both fantastic gifts.

The Continuation Editions (Pan Macmillan)
And finally, perhaps you’ve read the original story from cover to cover, and want to know what happens next? Look no further! The wonderful Frank Cottrell-Boyce has written THREE Chitty sequels, bringing the flying car into the 21st century (and also, into the distant past. And into space!). Start with Chitty Flies Again, then move on to The Race Against Time and Over The Moon to find out what happens when Chitty meets the Tooting family. All three books are also illustrated by Joe Berger, so form a perfect continuity with the Pan Macmillan paperback edition of the original story.

So there you have it! So many ways to enjoy this classic adventure. Where to start?