I’m re-reading, and writing, about Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl – an old favorite middle grades novel. I picked up on chapter 4 today, but it was such a fun part of the book that I decided to write about just this one chapter. Chapter 4, “My Father’s Deep Dark Secret,” would be a wonderful (or splendiferous to use a word from the chapter) passage to read as an excerpt if you don’t have the time for a whole novel. With it’s cliffhanger ending, it might just motivate a few kids to check out the book from the library and read it on their own.
The chapter begins with one of my favorite openings: “Here I am at the age of nine. This picture was made just before all the excitement started and I didn’t have a worry in the world.” The chapter goes on to tell about how Danny learned that his dad was a poacher. It includes a funny scene that kids will love about Danny grandmother treating an injury his grandfather received while poaching. The injury? “Poacher’s bottom.”
This chapter leads readers into one of the themes of the story – the secret world of grown-ups, a topic that kids are sure to be interested in. Where is Danny the Champion going with this theme of grown-up secrets? Kids will get a hint before the end of this chapter, and if they do keep reading, they’ll see it spelled out in the final sentence of the whole book. “What I have been trying so hard to tell you all along is simply that my father, without the slightest doubt, was the most marvelous and exciting father any boy ever had.” A fine, reassuring message for kids.
If you’re interested in using Danny the Champion in the classroom, check out my first post about this book, too. You’ll see it in the “Favorite Books and Stories” section of my website.
Linked with The Literary Maven and Reading Toward the Stars.