Ian Fleming’s strong-minded auto takes a new road trip, and if its passengers are largely just along for the ride, it’s still a grand outing.

Powering the decrepit camper van that Mr. Tooting is restoring with a massive engine that he finds in the branches of a tree turns out to be like “putting the heart of a Tyrannosaurus rex into a hamster.” When he, his wife and their children, Lucy, Jeremy (Jem) and little Harry, climb aboard to take a spin, they find themselves not only roaring down back roads at terrifying speeds but soaring off over the Channel. Chitty, it soon becomes clear, has an agenda: It seems that its headlights have been repurposed atop the Eiffel Tower, its wheels are buried near the Sphinx and its body has somehow washed ashore in Madagascar. Along the way, Cottrell Boyce folds in winking references to the 1964 original and its author (including a certain heavily armed Aston Martin DB5 that James Bond fans will recognize). He also trots in strangely familiar would-be carnappers Tiny Jack and his unctuous but deadly Nanny, along with the odd giant squid or horde of poisonous spiders to keep the Tooting children on their toes. The book ends with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang back together, poised for further outings. Berger depicts the Tootings as a biracial family but otherwise adds to the tale’s antique flavor with frequent, retro ink-and-wash drawings. The old racer’s still good for another lap—and maybe more. (afterword). (Fantasy. 10-12)


Pub Date: March 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5957-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Other recent illustrated versions outsail this superficial recasting.


From the 10-Minute Classics series

Shadowy pictures of larger-than-life figures cast atmospheric gloom over this summary version of the classic.

Edwards leaves out most of the gory whaling bits—as well as Ahab’s talismanic doubloon and so many other details that what’s left is more a precis of the main plot points. It’s speckled with vague allusions (“Despite ominous warnings, Queequeg and I stayed committed to the Pequod”) and capped with a one-line climax: “Claiming more than just the harpoon boats, Moby Dick dashed the Pequod and claimed all her crew. All except one….” In Horsepool’s stylized paintings, semiabstract views reveal icy seas in which looming clouds, icebergs, and the whale look much alike. These alternate with scenes of monumental but misshapen human figures (Queequeg and Ahab both sport tiny pointed heads atop humongous bodies) that are often seen from behind and generally in dim lighting. Ishmael appears only at the end, looking more like he’s standing in knee-deep water than clinging to the coffin. The cast’s diverse origins draw a narrative mention, but aside from Queequeg and one crew member in a group scene, everyone in the art appears to be white.

Other recent illustrated versions outsail this superficial recasting. (Picture book. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4867-1200-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flowerpot Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.


In McCanna and Frawley’s cheery picture-book debut, miniscule vehicles drive into supersized action.

Accompanied by a bouncy rhyme, several brightly colored trucks rumble through the garden: the lead red-and-blue truck, the more feminine purple truck and the gridlock-loathing aqua truck. Though the color palette and cartoon appearance of the nameless vehicles may seem like a carbon copy of Disney’s Cars (2006), illustrator Frawley has included humorous details for each truck, giving them life beyond their big-screen predecessors. For instance, the red-and-blue truck has jaunty eyebrows created from roof lights, the purple truck’s short bursts of steam look like daisies, and the aqua truck’s expressive eyebrows are actually wiper blades. The illustrations help tell a hilarious story, most notably of a traffic jam featuring a frog, slug and worm who are clearly not amused by the crowded garden path. McCanna similarly handles the text well. The rhythmic pattern is clear, most of the rhyme is spot-on—“Teeny tiny tires. With teeny tiny treads. / Leaving teeny tiny trails between the flower beds”—and the story begs to be read aloud to a group. Typical trucker talk is included in the dialogue—“Breaker breaker, Buddy!” “What’s your twenty, Friend?”—and the lingo is explained in a short glossary at the end of the story. Though the premise is amusing, the proportion of the trucks in relation to their surroundings can be a bit inconsistent. Most images depict the trucks, which are “smaller than a dime,” as being only marginally bigger than ants and bees, yet other images portray the trucks as being much larger—almost half as long as a box of animal crackers. Nevertheless, this delightful story will charm truck-loving children.

A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989668811

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2013

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