I’m always looking for good bedtime reading to share with my son. You know, something that we both can enjoy. Something that doesn’t involve bvd-clad superheroes farting their nemesis into submission or snide protagonists complaining about their lame teachers(yes, Big Nate, I’m lookin’ at you). Well you all know Roald Dahl has several good books that have been perennial favorites. But one that had escaped my notice until recently is Danny the Champion of the World. This one is a bit more realistic. No flying peaches or rivers of chocolate, but it is a very sweet story (BFG does make a cameo by the way).
Danny lives with his widower dad in a run-down camper. He has always idolized his dad who is an ace car mechanic, but discovers that he is sneaking off at night and for what is obviously illegal activity. Danny eventually gets drawn into the scheme and realizes that his Dad is in some very real danger. Danny is put to the test and is terrified that he might lose him.
Fundamentally, it’s a story about emerging from child-like innocence and beginning to see the world differently. For Danny, the transition is scary and difficult and it turns out that his dad is not who he thought he was. He has to adjust to this new person, but in the end he loves him all the more for it. And his father must take a leap and let Danny in on his deep dark secret. This story really can be enjoyed from both perspectives. It’s also one of those stories where the condescending rich guy gets what’s coming to him. Spectacularly. Who wouldn’t love that? And even if you don’t have a little one to read it to, it’s good enough to read to yourself. Check it out to learn the secret of the horsehair stopper and how Danny becomes Champion of the World.