Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time

illus. by Joe Berger. 240p. Candlewick. 2013. RTE $15.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5982-0.
Gr 4–6—Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is back, traveling through time with the Tootings. They are connected to the present day via a "jelly phone" through which they learn that evil villains have set up shop in their home. Chitty is up to her usual tricks, leading the family through an adventure that flies by at an almost frenetic pace. Readers are slyly fed facts about the times and places the travelers visit, including 1920s New York City and the Amazon. On the adventure to find the Potts, Chitty's first family, they wind up in the mythical city of El Dorado, where, after being dissasembled and reassembled, the people gild Chitty, dubbing her Chitty Chitty Bling Bling. After a brief stint at home to tie up loose plot threads (evil villains included), the story ends with the Tootings stuck in London in 1966, clearly leaving the door open for another installment. Much of the story is told through dialogue. While the action-oriented plot might appeal to reluctant readers, they are likely to find it hard to comprehend who is doing all the talking as the family races through time. Characters and plot points don't feel fully fleshed out, which contributes to the frenzied feel. Fun, but not a core purchase.—Amy Commers, South St. Paul Public Library, MN

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