Danny, the Champion of the World is set in the 1950s and written from the perspective of a nine year old boy.
Danny’s mother died when he was four months old, leaving him to be brought up by his father. They live in an old and cosy gypsy caravan behind a petrol station where Danny’s father works as a car mechanic. The story explores their relationship when Danny discovers “the deepest, darkest secret” of his father’s life: a love of poaching pheasants.
Together they devise the “Sleeping Beauty” plan to drug two hundred pheasants in Hazell’s wood by filling raisins with powdered sleeping pills and distributing them for the pheasants to eat. This local wood belongs to the detested, corpulent, exceedingly rich and obnoxious snob, Mr Victor Hazell. Danny and his father have a violent dislike of Victor Hazell, and they hope their plan to poach all his pheasants will ruin his annual pheasant shoot, held for all the nobility and “fancy folk” in the county.
Their plan succeeds and they escape under the cover of darkness with two gigantic sackfuls of sleeping birds that they leave with the local Vicar’s wife. Danny is crowned "Champion of the World" by his father for setting a new world record for poaching pheasants. The Vicar's wife hides the birds in her baby’s pram in order to return them to Danny and his father the following day. But on the way the sleeping pills wear off and pandemonium ensues as the pheasants escape.
Although their plan is not quite as successful as they had hoped, Danny and his father still manage to exact their revenge on Victor Hazell, who is forced to watch all the birds he raised to be killed at his infamous shooting party fly away. Danny and his father are left with just a few heavily-drugged pheasants to eat with their friends while they contemplate their next adventure.