Stig of the Dump by Clive King was one of my favourite books as a child.
It has now been released as a Penguin Modern Classic:
My childhood copy had a very distinctive, now iconic cover by celebrated children’s illustrator Edward Ardizzone.
I read it until the book began to disintegrate.
Stig of the Dump was televised by the BBC and was repeatedly shown throughout my childhood. Unlike some programmes made from books I loved, that turned out to be hugely disappointing, this programme delighted me, and made me love the book even more.
Stig of the Dump has, it seems, not only delighted me, but millions of readers over the years. It has been in print continuously since its publication fifty years ago and has become a classic of children’s literature.
The book tells the story of Barney, a boy who spends a great deal of his time alone, wandering around the countryside near his home. In an abandoned chalk pit he finds a boy, an unusual boy who speaks in grunts, and who, it appears, has made his home in a cave in the side of the chalk pit.
Barney calls the boy Stig, and they develop a friendship.
At heart it’s a simple story of two lonely people making friends across language barriers, time and culture. Its very simplicity is perhaps what has made it linger in the memory and allowed it to be picked up time and time again with enjoyment.
On Christmas day, acclaimed children’s author David Almond will be exploring Stig’s world and the popularity of the book in a Radio Four programme. You can find out details by clicking on the link here.
If you haven’t read Stig of the Dump yet, you are missing out. It deserves its classic status and is as lovely to read now as it was then. I recommend it for boys and girls aged about seven up (this is when I discovered it as a child). It is a book that would be lovely to share with your children as an ongoing bed time story, or in class as a shared reading experience.
Excerpts of it would make excellent food for thought if you were doing a topic in school on pre history, as it really brings the faraway concept of the ‘caveman’ to life.