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Danny Champion of the World - Roald Dahl

Danny Champion of the World

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Published: 6th September 2007
For Ages: 5+ years old
Format: ePUB

Danny thinks his dad is the most marvellous and exciting father a boy could wish for. Life is happy and peaceful in their gypsy caravan, until one day Danny discovers his dad has been breaking the law. What's more, soon Danny has to join his father as they attempt to pull off a daring and devilish plot against horrible, red-faced Mr Victor Hazell...

About The Author

Roald Dahl, the best-loved of children's writers, was born in Wales of Norwegian parents. After school in England he went to work for Shell in Africa. He began to write after "a monumental bash on the head", sustained as an RAF pilot in World War II. Roald Dahl died in 1990.

Chapter 1: The Big Friendly Giant

My father, without the slightest doubt, was the most marvellous and exciting father any boy ever had. Here is a picture of him.

You might think, if you didn't know him well, that he was a stern and serious man. He wasn't. He was actu­ally a wildly funny person. What made him appear so serious was the fact that he never smiled with his mouth. He did it all with his eyes. He had brilliant blue eyes and when he thought of something funny; his eyes would flash and if you looked carefully, you could actually see a tiny little golden spark dancing in the middle of each eye. But the mouth never moved.

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 with his mouth but the eyes stay the same. It's sure to be bogus.

My father was not what you would call an educated man and I doubt if he had read twenty books in his life. But he was a marvellous story-teller. He used to make up a bedtime story for me every single night, and the best ones were turned into serials and went on for many nights running.

One of them, which must have gone on for at least fifty nights, was about an enormous fellow called The Big Friendly Giant, or The BFG for short. The BFG was three times as tall as an ordinary man and his hands were as big as wheelbarrows. He lived in a vast underground cavern not far from our filling-station and he only came out into the open when it was dark. Inside the cavern he had a powder-factory where he made more than a hundred different kinds of magic powder.

Occasionally, as he told his stories, my father would stride up and down waving his arms and waggling his fingers. But mostly he would sit close to me on the edge of my bunk and speak very softly.

'The Big Friendly Giant makes his magic powders out of the dreams that children dream when they are asleep,' he said.

'How?' I asked. 'Tell me how, Dad.'

'Dreams, my love, are very mysterious things. They float around in the night air like little clouds, searching for sleeping people.'

'Can you see them?' I asked.

'Nobody can see them.'

'Then how does The Big Friendly Giant catch them?'

Ah,' my father said. 'That is the interesting part. A dream, you see, as it goes drifting through the night air, makes a tiny little buzzing-humming sound, a sound so soft and low it is impossible for ordinary people to hear it. But The BFG can hear it easily. His sense of hear­ing is absolutely fantastic.'

I loved the far intent look on my father's face when he was telling a story. His face was pale and still and distant, unconscious of everything around him.

'The BFG', he said, 'can hear the tread of a lady­bird's footsteps as she walks across a leaf. He can hear the whisperings of ants as they scurry around in the soil talking to one another. He can hear the sudden shrill cry of pain a tree gives out when a woodman cuts into it with an axe. Ah yes, my darling, there is a whole world of sound around us that we cannot hear because our ears are simply not sensitive enough.'

'What happens when he catches the dreams?' I asked.

'He imprisons them in glass bottles and screws the tops down tight,' my father said. 'He has thousands of these bottles in his cave.'

'Does he catch bad dreams as well as good ones?'

'Yes,' my father said. 'He catches both. But he only uses the good ones in his powders.'

'What does he do with the bad ones?'

'He explodes them.'
Roald Dahl

When he was at school Roald Dahl received terrible reports for his writing - with one teacher actually writing in his report, 'I have never met a boy who so persistently writes the exact opposite of what he means. He seems incapable of marshalling his thoughts on paper!'

After finishing school Roald Dahl, in search of adventure, travelled to East Africa to work for a company called Shell. In Africa he learnt to speak Swahili, drove from diamond mines to gold mines, and survived a bout of malaria where his temperature reached 105.5 degrees (that's very high!).

With the outbreak of the Second World War Roald Dahl joined the RAF. But being nearly two metres tall he found himself squashed into his fighter plane, knees around his ears and head jutting forward. Tragically of the 20 men in his squadron, Roald Dahl was one of only three to survive. Roald wrote about these experiences in his books Boy and Going Solo.

Later in the war Roald Dahl was sent to America. It was there that he met famous author C.S. Forester (author of the Captain Hornblower series) who asked the young pilot to write down his war experiences for a story he was writing. Forester was amazed by the result, telling Roald 'I'm bowled over. Your piece is marvellous. It is the work of a gifted writer. I didn't touch a word of it.' (an opinion which would have been news to Roald's early teachers!). Forester sent Roald Dahl's work straight to the Saturday Evening Post. Roald Dahl's growing success as an author led him to meet many famous people including Walt Disney, Franklin Roosevelt, and the movie star Patricia Neal. Patricia and Roald were married only one year after they met!

The couple bought a house in Great Missenden called Gipsy House. It was here that Roald Dahl began to tell his five children made-up bedtime stories and from those that he began to consider writing stories for children.

An old wooden shed in the back garden, with a wingbacked armchair, a sleeping bag to keep out the cold, an old suitcase to prop his feet on and always, always six yellow pencils at his hand, was where Roald created the worlds of The BFG, The Witches, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and many, many more.

Visit Roald Dahl's Booktopia Author Page

ISBN: 9780141322674
ISBN-10: 0141322675
Audience: Children
For Ages: 8 - 11 years old
For Grades: 3 - 6
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: August 2007
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9  x 1.7
Weight (kg): 0.22
Edition Number: 1