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 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 was only four months old when his mother dies, and at the beginning of the book, he lives with his widowed father, William, in a old caravan, where William operates a service station and a garage. When Danny was nine years old, he discovers that his father is an avid poacher, as was his father before him. Shortly thereafter, Danny wakes at 2:10 am and realizes his father hasn't returned from his latest poaching venture on the property of the local beer magnate, and drives an Austin Seven there, where he finds William in a trap, incapacitated by a broken ankle. While William recovers from his injury, he and Danny realize Mr. Hazell's annual pheasant shoot is approaching, to which he invites dukes, lords, barons, baronets, wealthy businessmen, and so on. They decide to humiliate him by capturing all the pheasants in the forest. They place the contents of the sleeping pills prescribed by the village doctor, Doc Spencer, into raisins that the pheasants will eat; William calls this new method "Sleeping Beauty".
After having hunted 120 pheasants from Hazell's Wood, William and Danny take a taxi (driven by a fellow poacher) to the vicarage, where they hide the pheasants, and afterwards walk home. The next day, Mrs. Grace Clipstone, the vicar's wife, delivers the sleeping pheasants in a specially built baby carriage; the pheasants start flying out of the baby carriage as the narcotic wears off, but not far, as they're still sleepy. It is at this point that Mr. Hazell arrives. With the help of Sergeant Enoch Samways, the village policeman, William and Danny shoo the stunned pheasants over (and in some cases inside) Mr. Hazell's Rolls Royce, damaging the car's paintwork in the process. As Mr. Hazell leaves disgraced, all of the pheasants wake up completely and fly away in the opposite direction from Hazell's property. The book ends when Danny is hailed as "the champion of the world" by William, Doc Spencer and Sgt. Samways. Six pheasants have died of a sleeping pill overdose, so Sgt. Samways, Mrs Clipstone and William and Danny each get two. William and Danny then walk into town, intending to buy a new oven to cook their pheasants, and later plan to do some trout-tickling in a nearby wood.
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.
William tells Danny a bedtime story sequence 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.
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: Tales of Childhood.
- 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)