Danny, the Champion of the World
Original book cover
|Illustrator||Jill Bennett (original)
|Published||1975 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 Danny, a young English boy, and his father, William, who live in a Gypsy caravan fixing cars for a living and partake in poaching pheasants. It was first published in 1975 in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and in the United Kingdom by Jonathan Cape.
It was adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1989 by Thames Television which starred Jeremy Irons. It 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). Peter Serafinowicz provides the English language audiobook recording.
Danny is only four months old when his mother dies, and at the beginning of the book, he lives with his widowed father, William, in a Gypsy caravan, where William operates a filling station and garage. When Danny is nine years old, he discovers that William has habitually taken part in poaching pheasants from the estate owned by local magnate, Mr. Victor Hazell. One morning thereafter, at 2:10 am, Danny discovers William's absence; and fearing of some misfortune, he drives an Austin Seven to Hazell's Wood, where he eventually finds William in a pit-trap, disabled by a broken ankle, and brings him home. While William is recovering from his injury, he and Danny learn that Mr. Hazell's annual pheasant-shooting party is approaching, which he hosts for dukes, lords, barons, baronets, wealthy businessmen, etc., and decide to humiliate him by capturing all the pheasants in the forest. To this end, Danny suggests that he and William should put the contents of sleeping pills prescribed by their surgeon, 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 taxi home. The next day, Mrs. Grace Clipstone, the vicar's wife, delivers the sleeping pheasants in a specially built oversized baby carriage; but the narcotic effect ceases, and many of them attempt to escape. Still drugged, they all perch around the filling station, just as Mr. Hazell arrives. With the help of Sgt. Enoch Samways, the local constable, William and Danny herd the groggy pheasants onto Mr. Hazell's Rolls Royce; but when they have woken up completely, they escape, and Mr. Hazell drives off in disgrace. The book ends when Danny is hailed as "the champion of the world" by William, Doc Spencer, and Sgt. Samways, of whom most acquire two pheasants, each of which has died of a drug overdose. William and Danny then walk towards town, intending to buy a new oven to cook their pheasants.
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, as Danny, with Robbie Coltrane as Mr. Hazell. It was released to Region 2 DVD in 2006.
Relations to other Roald Dahl books
Danny recalls a bedtime story of a "Big Friendly Giant" who captures good dreams and blows them into children's bedrooms at night. Dahl would later use the same concept in the full-length novel entitled The BFG.
In one section of the story distinct from the rest, Danny describes being caned by his teacher, Captain Lancaster, for cheating in an exam. This is similar to an experience that Dahl recounted of his own teacher, Captain Hardcastle, in Boy.
- ISBN 0-435-12221-5 (hardback, 1975)
- ISBN 0-14-032873-4 (paperback, 1988)
- ISBN 0-224-03749-8 (hardback, 1994)
- ISBN 0-14-037157-5 (paperback, 1994)
- ISBN 0-224-06469-X (paperback, 2002)
- ISBN 0-375-81425-6 (hardback, 2002)
- ISBN 0-375-91425-0 (library binding, 2002)
- ISBN 0-14-131132-0 (hardback, 2004)