Danny, the Champion of the World
Original book cover
Jill Bennett (original)|
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 centres 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 service station and a garage. When Danny is nine years old, he discovers that William has regularly participated in poaching pheasants owned by local magnate, Mr. Victor Hazell. One morning later, at 2:10 am, Danny discovers William's absence; and out of fear of some misfortune, he drives an Austin Seven to Hazell's Wood, where he finally finds William in a trap, incapacitated by a broken ankle, and takes him home. While William recovers from his injury, he and Danny discover that Mr. Hazell's annual pheasant launch party is approaching, which he welcomes to dukes, lords, barons, baronets, wealthy businessmen, etc., and they decide to humiliate him by capturing all the pheasants in the forest. To this end, Danny suggests that he and William place the contents of the sleeping pills prescribed by their surgeon, Doc Spencer, into the raisins that the pheasants will eat; and William calls this new method the "Sleeping Beauty".
After having hunted 120 pheasants from Hazell's Wood, William and Danny hide them in the house of the local vicar, while they take a taxi home. The next day, Mrs. Grace Clipstone, the vicar's wife, delivers the sleeping pheasants in a specially built large baby carriage, but the narcotic wears off and many of them try to escape. Still drugged, every one alights around the service station, just when Mr. Hazell arrives. With the help of Sergeant Enoch Samways, the village policeman, William and Danny gather the stunned pheasants in the Rolls Royce of Mr. Hazell; but when they wake up completely, they escape. Mr. Hazell leaves disgraced and ruins his shooting party. The book ends when Danny is hailed as "the champion of the world" by William, Doc Spencer and Sgt. Samways, of which the majority acquires two pheasants, each of which has died of a drug overdose. William and Danny then walk into 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, The Champion of the World is based on a previous short story by Dahl, entitled The Champion of the World, which was first published in The New Yorker Magazine in 1959 and later re-published in the compilation Kiss Kiss. The original story has a similar premise, but with adults as the main characters.
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 0-14-032287-6 (paperback, 1977)
- 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)