Chitty not only flies but also floats on water, drives itself and protects the family during a calamitous trip across the Channel that involves a couple of kidnappings and a gang of robbers.
Fleming was criticized for a lackluster ending. He has the car flying the family off to an unknown destination, presumably to make room for future adventures.
Enter Cottrell Boyce. At 52, he said "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was the first movie he ever saw as a boy, in an audience mesmerized when the car drives off a cliff and sprouts wings and propellers.
"It was a big day out to see that picture," he said. "There were lots of cousins and treats. I went for Cherry Lips, one of my favorite candies. Everybody gasped when the car went off the cliff and it was at that precise moment that the picture froze and the Intermission sign went on."
In search of a sequel writer, the Fleming family (Grimond and her sister are the daughters of Ian's older brother, Peter) learned of Cottrell Boyce through a neighbor boy who admired "Framed," the second of his three previous books. It features a boy whose family runs an auto shop.
"The car connection was there for them," he said.
Over the years, the film version has definitely "obscured Ian's book," Cottrell Boyce said. "Hardly anyone has read that book. It's so different than the film."
In the first of his sequels, the Pott family is long gone, replaced by the modern-day, biracial Tooting brood, complete with a mom, a 15-year-old daughter who always dresses in black and two sons.
The dad loses his factory job and the use of a company car (and its fancy navigation system). With help from his oldest son, he rebuilds a rusty, old 1966 camper van so the family can hit the open road. They install a massive engine they find up an oak tree in a junkyard and soon the magic begins, helped along by illustrations from Joe Berger.
Cottrell Boyce writes in Zborowski himself as the engine's builder, as the Tootings discover on a metal plaque screwed to the top of the carburetor. The family's street is also named for the count.
"What I love about Ian's book," Cottrell Boyce said, "is that the whole family goes on an adventure. That's very unusual in children's fiction. Usually, there's a war, or someone is ill or sent away to a remote house or something. There's even a recipe for fudge in the back of Ian's book. I thought, 'What fun. What a lark.' I definitely wanted to take it out for a ride, but I was very cautious about scratching the paint."
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