My younger daughters and I just finished a new old book. By new I mean that we had never heard of it and bought it for 50 cents a few Saturdays ago; by old I mean that the book was originally published in 1975. We found our copy in a thrift store and it was printed in 1982 as part of its 7th, that’s right 7th, printing! The book is Danny the Champion of the World.
Even if you don’t know the book, you know the author – Ronald Dahl (1916-1990). He wrote many favorites including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Dahl’s birthday was just last week, September 13, and though he passed away more than 20 years ago, I imagine his kids miss him more than ever. Here’s why: he was their storyteller first. Many of his great children’s works were first told to them and often came from his own experiences and interests as a child. In reading his autobiography Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984, Penguin Books), I get the feeling that he knew what it really means to be someone’s dad. And Danny the Champion of the World is a dad’s literary paradise.
The entire story is viewed through the son Danny’s eyes and his descriptions of his caring and focused father are profound and helpful to understand how important a father’s words and actions are to his children; whether those words and actions are directed at the child or others makes no difference at all.
We will tell you more specifically about the book in our Book Cook/Review tomorrow, so for now suffice it to say that this is one for the dads. It is a story like this that makes me want to be a better dad – and a children’s book that can do this is truly…a triumph for dads.