Title: Danny the Champion of the World
Author: Roald Dahl
Illustrator: Quentin Blake
What it’s about: By today’s standards, Danny and his father live in poverty in a gypsy caravan, running a small petrol station, but to Danny it is a wonderful existence. He adores his father, who has raised him since his mother died when he was only four months old. However, just before his ninth birthday, Danny discovers that his dad has a rather naughty secret and that a nasty landowner, Victor Hazell, is plotting to get rid of them. It’s up to Danny to come up with a plan that will restore their peace and happiness.
Holly’s review: This book is more serious than other Roald Dahl stories, which tend to be jolly. But I like it as much as them. Danny and his dad love each other very much. It’s sad that the mum died but good that they have a very close relationship. The story is unusual because normally Roald Dahl’s men are lazy characters – and I would have expected him to be a lazy widower who lives in an apartment or house, not a nice man in a caravan. I like Quentin Blake’s illustrations. It looks like he has sketched them and they have a messy appearance but not so much that you can’t understand what’s going on. For example, trees don’t have to be neat and tidy.
Sam’s review: I had the same reaction to Holly when I read Danny years and years ago – that it was a relatively seriously book compared to the sometimes manic and bizarre storylines of other novels such as The BFG, Mathilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was unsettling at first but I think as Holly says it’s just a different type of book. There are still moments of comedy – Victor Hazell, as with all of Dahl’s villains – is hilariously described (and drawn by Blake). The relationship between Danny and his dad is very moving and gives a nice example of how parents can actually be close to their children (rather than beastly or inept or stupid!). It’s more of a book that you cuddle up with and enjoy as parent and child than roll around laughing but that is no bad thing nowadays, when it’s becoming rarer for this to happen.
Link to Roald Dahl’s website: http://www.roalddahl.com/