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Stig of the Dump

Author: Clive King. Illustrated by Edward Ardizzone
Edition: 1976 reprint
Published: Harmondsworth
Physical Description: 158p. : ill.
Notes: Clive King (1924 –) is a British author who is best known for this novel, Stig of the Dump, which has gained a gradual success and is often considered a modern classic of children’s literature. Stig of the Dump is also important in terms of the Puffin Story Book series, as it was one of the ‘Puffin Originals’ commissioned by the Puffin series editor at the time, Kaye Webb. The book had been rejected by numerous publishers before Webb published it in the Puffin Book series in 1963. King observes in an interview that the book may have been rejected by numerous publishers due to its portrayal of children roaming free, which, in the 1960s was already being ‘frowned upon’ (Barkham). Barney, the main character, has a notable amount of freedom as he roams away from his grandmother’s house and investigates what was once a chalk-pit, now a dump. The landscape is explored in detail and prompts many of Barney’s musings. Here, Barney connects the contemporary wasteland with its history: ‘He thought of all the sticks of chalk they must have made, and all the blackboards in all the schools they must have written on... And now they did not know what to do with this empty hole and they were trying to fill it up again. Anything people didn’t want they threw into the bottom of the pit’ (8). The pit is unstable and collapses when Barney is exploring, leading him to fall into the hut of a cave boy named Stig. For the remainder of the novel, Barney and Stig’s friendship develops and remains visible only to Barney, for the most part. Towards the end of the novel, Barney’s sister Lou joins the adventure when the narrative slips back in time and the children meet Stig and his clan and help with the construction of standing stones, which still stand in the contemporary locality. Stig disappears towards the end of the novel, as the dump begins to be filled in. However, Stig’s presence remains as a symbol of Barney’s imagination and the idea of childhood as something not fully accessible to adults: ‘The grown-ups never really knew just how real he was, but they got used to the idea that wherever there was a pile of old thrown-away things an unseen Stig was likely to be poking around in it’ (156).
[Ciara Gallagher].
Barkham, Patrick. “Clive King: Ash was a boring place. It needed something to wake it up, so I invented Stig.” The Guardian. 21 Dec. 2013. Web. 10 Jul. 2015. [http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/21/clive-king-stig-of-the-dump-interview].
Subject: Genre, Gender; Illustrator, Time-slip Narrative, Imaginary Friend, Dump, Wasteland, Urban, Freedom, Adventure, Stone Age, Childhood
Language: English
Original price: 40p; $1.50 Canada
Library: Church of Ireland College of Education
Collection: Bartlett Puffin Collection - CICE