Sunday, February 14, 2016

Danny Champion of the World (Roald Dahl)

This book was recommended by one of the male teachers at my school (we don't have many male teachers...and they don't often give book I paid attention when this one did!) He says it is his favourite book of all time. I hadn't read it, so I decided I should. I think it'd be a great book for boys and dads, especially. I love Danny's admiration for his dad in this story. 

“I was glad my father was an eye-smiler. It meant he never gave me a fake smile because it's impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren't feeling twinkly yourself. A mouth-smile is different. You can fake a mouth-smile any time you want, simply by moving your lips. I've also learned that a real mouth-smile always has an eye-smile to go with it. So watch out, I say, when someone smiles at you but his eyes stay the same. It's sure to be a phony.”

Danny's dad teaches him to fix cars, teaches him cool facts about animals, lets Danny take days off school for fake sicknesses, and takes him on great hunting adventures. There is no one Danny would rather spend time with.

This little bit made me laugh out loud:

“On this Thursday, on this particular walk to school, there was an old frog croaking in the stream behind the hedge as we went by.
'Can you hear him, Danny?'
'Yes,' I said,
'That is a bullfrog calling to his wife. He does it by blowing out his dewlap and letting it go with a burp.'
'What is a dewlap?' I asked.
'It's the loose skin on his throat. He can blow it up just like a balloon.'
'What happens when his wife hears him?'
'She goes hopping over to him. She is very happy to have been invited. But I'll tell you something very funny about the old bullfrog. He often becomes so pleased with the sound of his own voice that his wife has to nudge him several times before he'll stop his burping and turn round to hug her.'
That made me laugh.
'Dont laugh too loud,' he said, twinkling at me with his eyes. 'We men are not so very different from the bullfrog.” 

The more Roald Dahl books I read, the more I see overlaps in his stories. This one refers to the BFG, a bed-time story that Danny's dad tells. It doesn't go anywhere though. It is a minor part of this story.  The sergeant at the end of the story is a funny character. He puts h's at the front of words where they don't belong and removes them from words where they should be. It reminded me of how fun it is to read The Witches out loud. I wonder if Sargeant Samway shows up in any other books? 

One bothersome thing about this story is how doing something mean/dishonest/tricky to someone who is not nice is totally justifiable. This theme pops up in other Roald Dahl books like The Twits and Matilda.  ....maybe I am being too dull.....not sparky enough.

“A stodgy parent is no fun at all. What a child wants and deserves is a parent who is SPARKY” 

Goodreads summary:

Danny has a life any boy would love—his home is a gypsy caravan, he's the youngest master car mechanic around, and his best friend is his dad, who never runs out of wonderful stories to tell. But one night Danny discovers a shocking secret that his father has kept hidden for years. Soon Danny finds himself the mastermind behind the most incredible plot ever attempted against nasty Victor Hazell, a wealthy landowner with a bad attitude. Can they pull it off? If so, Danny will truly be the champion of the world. 

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