Like many, I was a fan of Roald Dahl as a child and read most of his books. You would probably think that the BFG (Big Friendly Giant for those unfamiliar) would be my favourite, as it is with most Roald Dahl fans, however it is the lesser known “Danny the Champion of the World” that has always been the most special to me. I have made it a point to read it to all of my four children, one by one. I have just finished reading it to my youngest, Jamison, who is nearly 7. To be honest, I think I enjoy reading it more that my children, but they do like it; I am sure.
What has always struck me is the character of William, Danny’s father. Roald Dahl depicts William as a kind, gentle, strong, secure father figure for Danny, whose mother died when he was very young. Written in 1975, it is an early piece of literature in the evolving “modern father” treatise that we are seeing the fruition of now. I am not sure of Roald’s intentions with this character, but certainly it is asserted in the story that a father can fulfill the physical and emotional needs of a child.
To me, William has always been the real champion in this story. Like many men, he makes sacrifices to give his child the best start in life he can. At times, this has meant letting go of material wants, in order to available to provide for his child’s needs. He realised that his time, attention, guidance, and love, were the most important ingredients in his parenting recipe, with a splash of “sparky” as Roald would say.
So well done Roald, for you unwittingly entangled a lovely message of parenting and fatherhood in this wonderful children’s story.
“A message to children who have read this book;
When you grow up and have children of your own
Do please remember something important
A stodgy parent is no fun at all
What a child wants and deserves
is a parent who is SPARKY”
Roald Dahl – Danny the Champion of the World