Back from the dead
It seems that when you're dead these days, we don't have to mourn the end of the line for the body of work an author may be famous for. What was previously only the territory of the Virginia Andrews fan, has been afforded the followers of Winnie the Pooh ("Return to the Hundred Acre Wood"), James Bond ("Devil May Care" and the impending "Carte Blanche") and now Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Sherlock Holmes. I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing but if it ain't broke, there's no need to fix it - just do more of the same - being dead is clearly no bar. I'm not sure though, that a camper van will have the same appeal to me as the classic car fashioned from a rowboat that was the original Chitty - the Bookseller states "Millions author Frank Cottrell Boyce is writing a trilogy based on Ian Fleming's children's classic, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car, in which the flying car makes a return alongside a modern family who are descended from the family in the original story.
The first in the trilogy, Chitty Flies Again, will be published by Macmillan Children's Books on 4th November. The original story was published in 1964, two months after Fleming's death, and was illustrated by John Burningham. Cottrell Boyce was approached by the Fleming family to write the story.
The three-book deal, for UK and Commonwealth (excluding Canada) rights, including serial, was done by Simon Trewin at United Agents (acting on behalf of the Fleming family) working in conjunction with Boyce's agent Zoe Waldie at Rogers Coleridge and White Literary Agency.
The new story is about a family where the father has been made redundant and sets about trying to reconstruct a VW Camper Van. He unwittingly uses the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang engine for the camper van, which has its own agenda, to restore itself. The trilogy follows the car's adventures during its restoration and is illustrated with black-and-white line drawings by Joe Berger.
The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film script was written by Roald Dahl – he wrote himself in as the Child Catcher – and with this and Fleming's heritage, Cottrell Boyce said: "That is two giant pairs of shoes to step into." He added: "It's been the most enjoyable writing experience ever, partly because I knew I had this safety net - the car is a great idea - and I could play with the Bond heritage as well; a fantastic car, lots of action and a really great villain. While there is no Child Catcher in his story, Cottrell Boyce has created his own "super-villain", descended from the ‘baddie' Man-Mountain Fink in the original book. Cottrell Boyce said: "He is the best super-villain ever and I hope he will have the same unnerving and eerie quality as the Child Catcher."
I can clearly recall going to see CCBB on a day-trip funded by the Royal British Legion when I was a kid - I have never quite gotten over the (literal) cliff-hanger from the unexpected intermission as Chitty went over the cliff, only to be left hanging there as the usherette touted her wares ("Wlf Nipple Chips, get 'em while they're hot, they're lovely!" - oops - sorry - that was "Life of Brian"........)
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Posted by Steve Sargent.