Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Danny the Champion of the World

Danny the Champion of the World

Roald Dahl
Illustrator:   Quentin Blake 
For ages 9 to 12
HarperCollins, 1998   ISBN: 978-0141301143

As far as Danny is concerned, his father is without a doubt the most splendid person in the world. There is just the two of them and they live in a gypsy caravan behind the filling station and car repair shop which Danny’s dad owns and operates. Father and son are very close and they love the time that they spend together.

One night Danny wakes up in the middle of the night to find that his father is gone. When his father finally turns up Danny, not surprisingly, wants to know where his dad has been for so long. It is then that Danny learns about a secret side of his father’s life. His father loves to go poaching and he likes nothing better than to go poaching for pheasant in Mr. Hazell’s woods. This is a dangerous business for Mr. Hazell employs a veritable army of keepers to watch over the pheasants and these men think nothing of taking a potshot at a poacher should the opportunity arise. Danny is fascinated by all this and does not mind his father being a poacher so long as he tells Danny what he is up to.

Some nights later Danny’s father goes poaching again and this time Danny wakes up in the early hours of the morning to find that his father is many hours late. There is only one thing to do – Danny goes to Hazell’s wood to look for him. Thankfully Danny finds his father but the man is lying in the bottom of a tiger trap with a broken ankle. Danny manages to get his father out of the pit and safely home and then the two of them try to come up with a plan to pay Mr. Hazell back for setting such a trap in the first place. Danny then comes up with an ingenious plan which is sure to put a serious dent in Mr. Hazell’s preparations for his big pheasant shoot in a few days time.

This is a delightful celebration of the love that a father and son have for each other. They also have a shared determination to pay their enemy back and what is especially funny is the fact that many other people in the community are happy to be a part of it all, including the local policeman and the vicar. Full of laugh-out-loud descriptions, and deliciously colorful characters, this is a title which will charm readers again and again.