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SRC, Week 1: Chitty Chitty And The Race Against Time

Other Summer Reading Challenge posts: Introduction,

Week One: 1) Kids, 2) Teens, 3) Devotional

Week Two: 1) Kids, 2) Teens, 3) Devotional

Week Three: off

Week Four: 1) Kids. 2) Teens, 3) Devotional.

Week Five: 1) Kids, 2) Teens, 3) Devotional.

Week Six: 1) Kids, 2) Teens, 3) Devotional.



Welcome, time travelers, all!  Whether you’ve gotten here by traveling forward or backward, you’ve picked a good day to land–June 16, 2014, the first day of our Summer Reading Challenge.

I should probably make a quick note about what you should expect through the end of July.  Here’s how the weeks will look, with the exception of the week of July 4th:

     Monday: List #1 Book Intro & Worldview Academy interview

     Tuesday: Time Travel Devotional

    Wed, Thurs, & Fri: non-SRC post or off

     Saturday: List #2 (Ages 12 and up) Book Intro & Breakpoint discussion

We will also have a writing contest to announce very soon, but not sure exactly which day…So, stay tuned.  And with that in mind, let’s jump right in!


J. Baldwin (12)Each week, this is where we’ll put up a roughly ten-minute segment of Emily’s interview with Jeff Baldwin of Worldview Academy.  The purpose of this interview is to give you and your kids some big ideas to chew on.  Jeff and Emily ask and attempt to answer questions like these: How is the Christian view of time different from other worldviews? Does the Bible offer any insight on whether time travel is possible?  And if you could go back or forward in time, when and where would you visit?

Parents, you can use these ideas as a springboard for your own discussions.  Or feel free to have your kids listen with you.  At roughly ten minutes long, we hope these segments will be short enough to keep most little time travelers engaged.

SRC Baldwin Interview, Part One

Jeff Baldwin is the co-founder of Worldview Academy and serves as the research director for that ministry.  He has written several books included The Deadliest Monster: An Introduction to Worldviews.  His website provides free reading lists and discussion guides about the classics for Christian educators.



chitty chitty bang bangChitty Chitty Bang Bang pops into mind along with the music to the fantastic movie with Dick Van Dyke. A musical classic for sure. If your children need an introduction to this quirky, flying car, that is a good one (note that the child catcher scenes can be frightening for young and/or sensitive children). Many people don’t know, however, that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was first a book. And that the book was written by Ian Fleming (who also wrote the James Bond books). The Ian Fleming estate granted permission for Frank Cottrell Boyce to write a short trilogy of Chitty’s further adventures in recent years, and he’s done a bang up job. The newer books are very fun to read–and very British (including words like “pootling” and spellings like “tyre” and “kerb”).

The New Series

We’ve chosen to focus on the second book in this newer trilogy because Chitty really starts her time traveling adventures in it. You can pick up with this second one with minimal effort, but if you have readers in your home, go ahead and try to read the previous one in the series first. They’re quick reads (Cottrell Boyce’s first one takes a couple of chapters to get swinging’ but then it’s a crazy ride), and the second volume will be all the richer for having read the others. When you’re done with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time, you must end with Chitty Chitty Bang Over the Moon which just came out this spring.

The Tooting family includes Dad, Mum, Lucy (a very typical “Goth” teenager), Jem (the main middle grade protagonist), and Little Harry (who’s always right). Dad is sometimes portrayed as a bit bumbling, but Mum Tooting is his biggest fan and deftly lifts him up in the limelight. These two parents are still obviously love each other and think the world of each other. The parents need their children’s assistance, but the roles aren’t reversed (parents still parents and kids still kids). Each volume below is a crazy adventure. In fact, the word today is over the top.

Below is a short summary of each book followed by discussion questions/topics more tailored to our focus book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time.

Book Summaries

CCBB Flies AgainChitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce and illustrated by Joe Berger. Candlewick, 2011 (UK pub. date, 2010).

Mr. Tooting loses his job, and his wife buys him a vintage camper van to restore so that Mr. Tooting’s inventive nature has an outlet. Mr. Tooting and Jem do a nice bit of father-son bonding as they restore the camper van. In the process, they make a trip to Bucklewing’s Scrapyard and make a fateful discovery: the engine of a famous car (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). This launches them on unbelievable, world-traveling adventures as Chitty (who has a mind of her own) leads them to discover her scattered parts and fully reassemble her. Read Janie’s full review for more information.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time. 2012.CCBB Race Against Time

This second installment is one madcap race to be sure. Chitty has a mind of her own and takes the Tooting family to prehistoric times, to the Roaring Twenties in America (and Chitty’s original owner, Count Zborowski), to El Dorado, to the present, and finally, to the famous 1966 World Cup game in London. Jem uses Chitty’s logbook to piece together different adventures in Chitty’s past (and helps his sister Lucy narrowly avert a tragic accident). By the end of the book, the nefarious Tiny Jack and Nanny have Chitty in their grips, and the Tooting family has just spied the Potts family. Personally, I think this book would make a very fun animated film. Definitely the tie that binds the trilogy together, this is the most action-packed of the three and leaves you hanging at the end!

CCBB Over the moonChitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon. 2014.

The Potts and Tooting families together set out to defeat Tiny Jack and Nanny in their dangerous world domination/destruction game. This volume features two Chittys who come dangerously close to being together at the same point in space and time–a disaster for the space-time continuum! Thankfully, this apocalyptic event is averted, and the Tootings must decide whether to correct a wrong done in the past or not. If the wrong is corrected, then history for the Tooting family will be irrevocably altered, and they will not even have any memories of Chitty left. Read our recent review for more information.

Discussion Questions

  • What did you like about this book or books?  Anything you didn’t like?
  • What were some of the main ideas of the story?
  • In Race Against Time, the author mentions “billions of years” regarding dinosaurs.  How does that compare to the Creation story in Genesis? 
  • Who is in charge of history? Can an object alter history? Can a human? Consider this quotation from page 25:  “What if we accidentally left a penknife or a box of matches behind? That could alter the course of human history. We might come home and find that the whole world had changed. Basildon might be full of people performing human sacrifice.”
  • Discuss the significance of each person in the tapestry of history. Consider this quotation from page 181 (referring to the advisability of preventing the Count’s death): “Everyone is important. Everyone is connected.”
  • What is the importance of objects (photos, souvenirs, inheritances, CARS) in this story and in your life?  How do objects help us know the stories of the past and pass on our own stories?


***This Giveaway is now over.  Winners have been chosen and notified!***

Be sure to check back tomorrow for our first Time Travel Devotional.  That’s where we’ll really make the SRC interactive and worldview-strengthening!

Until then, we actually have one last giveaway for you!  N.D. Wilson has kindly offered us three signed copies of our first book from Reading List #2, Ashtown Burials, as well as a couple of other gifts.  If you’re interested, let us know a few of your thoughts about our interview with Jeff Baldwin of Worldview Academy above, and you’ll be entered!  (We’ll have three winners, so don’t be shy!)



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  1. Jill Litzinger says

    Enjoyed the interview. Got me thinking of other ways of viewing time. We just finished the Chronicles of Narnia (for the umpteenth time) and relativity seems to be another way of viewing time. Or at least that there is more than one “time” stream relative to where the viewer is located. Time was still linear…I guess, but flowed more quickly or more slowly depending on which world you were in. Very interesting…I think my kiddos will enjoy discussing this. Especially since my teenager is enthralled in Dr. Who at the moment!

  2. Travis Lowe says

    The interview spurred a discussion with my daughter about where she would go if she could travel back in time. She said she would definitely go and see Jesus during his earthly ministry.

  3. Jessica says

    My son and I enjoyed this bit of interview. He said it makes him think about looking forward to the end and fulfilling our purpose and being with Christ.

  4. Jamie says

    Very interesting interview. Going to let my kids listen to it. Time is definitely a harder-to-grasp concept for some kids.

  5. Cheryl says

    Hi, I’m about 70 pages into this book – does it get better? So far, it seems morally confusing – the Count is mixed up with gangsters and running from police. There’s a “bimbo” that is ready to get married to Count Z, after a brief conversation and reveals she was married to someone else only a month earlier. There was also the earlier reference to microevolution…These are all topics I’m discussing with my children; I’m just wondering if the overall direction of this book is worth the time.

  6. Betsy says

    Thanks so much for letting us know your concerns, Cheryl. One of the downsides to picking up a book mid-way through a series is that we miss the build up that happens in the first book. In this case, we get the know the Tooting family well in the first book. They are presented as a loving family who overlooks each others’ quirks and are each others’ biggest champions (especially the Mum and Dad). Jem, in particular, comes across as clever and thoughtful–a boy who pays attention to detail and thinks things through before he acts. This background helps offset the evil Count in The Race Against Time; he is clearly a foil for Jem and, as Chitty’s first owner, this is important. Chitty merely uses him to further her own cause, but doesn’t spend the same amount of time with him that she does with Jem and the Tootings (and, later, the Potts).

    It’s true that the Count’s actions definitely come across as less than ideal; but it should be clear even to young readers that his behavior is in no way exemplary. The tone of the book in general is so light and the evil characters are so cartoonish that the Count is sort of the proverbial bad guy wearing the black cape with a handlebar mustache. I can understand your concern over the use of the word “bimbo;” thankfully, I can assure you that this character will soon be revealed for what she is…in a funny way. Like a superhero movie, these characters are larger than life, and we feel normal, well-grounded kids aren’t likely to be personally tempted or have their ideals compromised by reading the story.

    Per the microevolution, we agree with you that this is worth a discussion with your kids. (See our discussion questions this week.) We’d recommend reading Genesis with them and discussing how we might tell this part of the story differently as Christians.

    Personally, I find the third volume (Over the Moon) the most fulfilling as the Tootings and Potts families together face an interesting moral decision (and I think they make the right choice although it involves great sacrifice for the Tootings especially). But that third book will make more sense after experiencing the various characters and situations in this second volume (just like the first volume gives good background for this one!).

    It’s still possible that you may simply not like this story, or may not feel it’s suitable for your kids. And in that case, we’d encourage you to read a little ahead and judge for yourself. We are by no means the ultimate word on what’s right for you and your kids, and we hope you’ll pray and think carefully as you decide what is best for your family.

  7. Stephanie says

    I like the idea that a good story has to have a beginning, middle and an end and that God has given us the ultimate example in His word by telling us how our history began, the middle and how the story will end.

  8. Cheryl says

    Betsy, thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed response. At the point of my query, there was little in the dialogue or in the omniscient narrating to determine whether the author intended to guide the audience toward a morally redeeming conclusion. Based on the perspective you provided, we are sticking with it and finding that some of the questionable issues/characters are eventually being portrayed in the proper light.

    I love this website! It meets a great need. Thank you!

  9. Betsy says

    So glad my comment helped, Cheryl. We’d love to know what you think of the book when you’ve finished it!

  10. Steph says

    We are late to start the reading challenge, as we were finishing up “The Gargoyle in My Yard” by Philippa Dowding (which we enjoyed).

    I wanted to chime in about this book…we are in the middle of chapter 4 and so far we are loving it! I love the writing–it’s so cheeky and well-done, and when the count talks I keep thinking of Chummy from Call the Midwives with all her posh sayings. I think my daughter was genuinely nervous during the dinosaur chase.

    I feel a little lost keeping up with these posts but I think I’ll figure it out soon. 🙂

    • Emily says

      Steph, So glad you’re enjoying the read along. I’m sorry you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the posts. I’m wondering if it might be better to do one weekly post? Anyway, hopefully you’re signed up in the introductory post and will receive newsletters to help you keep up. : )

  11. Steph says

    I don’t think I am getting those, Emily, but I think I did chime in the comments….back in May, maybe? I don’t think the number of posts is overwhelming, but it’s because I’m reading a book that you read a few weeks ago. I’m writing a geography course for an online high school and it’s due tonight actually, so time for readalouds is hard to come by right now! 🙂

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