Review: Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl
March 18, 2015 § 1 Comment
Dahl is one of those authors I always recommend to reluctant readers: his fantastic imagination, his real empathy with children, and his wonderful sense of humor have the power to pull readers in and hold them captive until the last page. I’ve read – and recommend – the BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Twits, Esio Trot, The Witches, and of course Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. The BFG and Great Glass Elevator are my favorites. – Oh, and Matilda, and James and the Giant Peach. And The Twits and The Witches. And Esio Trot is a good substitute if you can’t get Shel Silverstein. And I’ll always go back to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Yes, they can all be my favorites! )
There are still a handful of his children’s books that I haven’t read – George’s Marvelous Medicine, The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me, The Enormous Crocodile – but Danny the Champion of the World is the one I was most curious about. I hope to finish the rest of Dahl’s books for children this year.
The inside cover of Danny says “The author has forbidden us to say anything at all here about the plot of this book. ‘Why tell about it beforehand,’ he says. ‘It spoils it.'” And I have to agree: I went into the book knowing nothing about the story – except that it was about a boy and his father – and I think it was more wonderful to me because I didn’t know what would happen. So I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about the story – you should read it for yourself, anyway.
My first thought on closing the book was that it was beautiful. I think it is more beautiful than any of the other Dahl books I’ve read: there is still plenty of silliness and fantastic imagination and hilarity, but there is a quiet tenderness about Danny that I didn’t detect in the others. I loved Danny and his father; they were round and real, and portrayed intimately and affectionately.
In Danny, you’ll find the trademark Dahl caricatures and tall tales and adventure, but also a warm, loving picture of the relationship between a boy and his father.
I would recommend Danny the Champion of the World to readers around age nine and up. I think it might be appreciated more by somewhat older readers than are in his usual target audience, because this book is slightly more serious. See my Goodreads review for my one quibble with the book, something you might want to discuss with whatever young reader you share it with.
Have you read this book, or anything else by Roald Dahl? If so, what is your favorite Dahl book?
EDIT 3/19: A few hours after I published this review, I found this video by Booktuber Erika, about Roald Dahl! Perfect timing. If you’d like to know a little more about this wonderful author, I’d recommend starting with her video!