Danny, the Champion of the World
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2013)|
Original book cover
|Illustrator||Jill Bennett (original)
|Publisher||Jonathan Cape (original)
Puffin Books (current)
|Media type||Print (Hardback, Paperback)|
Danny, the Champion of the World is a 1975 children's book by Roald Dahl. The plot centers on a young English boy, Danny, and his father, William, who live in a Gypsy caravan fixing cars for a living and partake in poaching pheasants. The book was first published in 1975 in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape. The book was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1989 by Thames Television. The story is based on Dahl's adult short story "Champion of the World" which first appeared in print in The New Yorker magazine, as did some of the other short stories that would later be reprinted as Kiss Kiss (1960).
Danny was only four months old when his mother died so he lives with his widowed father, William, in a Gypsy caravan, where William had a filling station and garage. When wealthy landowner Victor Hazell threatens Danny without cause, William refuses to serve him; after which several inspectors visit the station, presumably at Mr. Hazell's direction. When Danny is only nine years old, he discovers that his father has habitually taken part in poaching pheasants from Mr. Hazell's estate. William reveals methods of poaching by placing a raisin inside a "Sticky Hat" so that the pheasant can't flee. Having a horse's tail hair threaded through a raisin causes it to become lodged in the pheasant's throat. This in turn causes the pheasant to become preoccupied with trying to swallow it, so that a poacher can easily catch it. Waking up at around 2:10am, Danny discovers William's absence. Fearing that some misfortune has befallen him, Danny drives an Austin Seven motor car to Hazell's Wood, where he eventually finds William in a pit-trap, disabled by a broken ankle, and brings him home. William is treated by Doc Spencer, who is a friend of theirs.
While William is recovering from his injury he and Danny soon find out that Mr. Hazell's annual pheasant-shooting party is approaching, which he hosts for dukes, lords, barons, baronets, wealthy businessmen, and all the fancy folk in the county. William and Danny decide to humiliate him by capturing all the pheasants from the forest, so there will be no pheasants to shoot. Danny suggests that he and William should put the contents of sleeping pills prescribed by Doc Spencer inside raisins which the pheasants will then eat; and William dubs this new method the "Sleeping Beauty". Having poached 120 pheasants from Hazell's Wood, William and Danny hide them at the local vicar's house, while they take a taxicab home. The next day, Mrs. Clipstone, the vicar's wife, delivers the sleeping pheasants in a specially-built oversized baby carriage. As she is walking toward them, the sleeping pills wear off and many of the pheasants attempt to escape, however being quite dopey from the drug they all land and sit around the filling station, just as Mr. Hazell himself arrives. A shouting match ensues, and with their help of Sgt. Enoch Samways, the local constable, William and Danny herd the groggy birds onto Mr. Hazell's Rolls Royce, where they scratch the paintwork and defecate. When the pheasants have woken completely, they depart, and Mr. Hazell drives off in disgrace, his fancy car and shooting party ruined. The book ends when Danny is hailed as "the champion of the world" by William, Doc Spencer, and Sgt. Samways, of whom most acquire six pheasants who had died because they had eaten too many sleeping pill raisins. William and Danny walk off towards town, intending to buy their new oven for cooking their pheasants. As he and William go, Danny dwells in his narration on William's imagination and vivacity.
The book was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1989 by Thames Television. It was directed by Gavin Millar and starred Jeremy Irons as William and his son Samuel Irons as Danny, with Robbie Coltrane as Victor Hazell. It was released to Region 2 DVD in 2006.
Relations to other Roald Dahl books
Danny recalls a bedtime story that his father used to tell him of a giant called the BFG who captures dreams and blows them into children's bedrooms at night. Roald Dahl had developed the character within the bedtime stories which he used to tell to his own children. He would later use the concept as the basis for the full length novel entitled The BFG.
In one section of the story that seems to have little connection to the rest of the story, Danny describes being caned for cheating (he gave his friend an answer) by his abusive teacher, Captain Lancaster. This story is extremely similar to an experience that Roald Dahl encountered with his own teacher, Captain Hardcastle, which is described in Boy.
- ISBN 0-435-12221-5 (hardcover, 1975)
- ISBN 0-14-032873-4 (paperback, 1988)
- ISBN 0-224-03749-8 (hardcover, 1994)
- ISBN 0-14-037157-5 (paperback, 1994)
- ISBN 0-224-06469-X (paperback, 2002)
- ISBN 0-375-81425-6 (hardcover, 2002)
- ISBN 0-375-91425-0 (library binding, 2002)
- ISBN 0-14-131132-0 (hardcover, 2004)