Stig of the Dump
|1 June 1963|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
Audiobook (read by Martin Jarvis)
Audiobook (read by Tony Robinson
Stig of the Dump is a children's novel by Clive King, first published in the United Kingdom in 1963. It is regarded as a modern children's classic and is often read in schools. It was illustrated by Edward Ardizzone and has been twice adapted for television, in 1981 and in 2002. It was featured in a broadcast as an adaptation on BBC Home Service for schools in November 1964, and later on the BBC series Blue Peter.
Barney is a bored young boy staying with his grandparents on the chalk Downs of southern England. One day, he falls over the edge of an old chalk pit close to his grandparents' house, tumbling through the roof of a den. While exploring the den, Barney encounters its owner, Stig, a caveman with shaggy, black hair and bright black eyes. The chalk pit is disused and full of people's dumped rubbish.
Barney and Stig quickly become friends. They learn to communicate with each other without language, as Stig speaks no English. Stig's den is a place built out of discarded rubbish, which motivates Barney to help Stig make it look more attractive. They spend time repairing and improving Stig's den, collecting firewood, going hunting, and at one point catching some burglars who break into Barney's grandparents' house. On another occasion Barney is cornered by the bullying Snarget brothers, who become uncharacteristically docile when Stig appears and are impressed by Barney's friendship with Stig. Although Barney mentions Stig to others, no-one (with the exception of the Snargets) believes that Stig is real.
Barney starts to give thought to where Stig has come from. During a very hot, sultry mid-summer's night, when Barney and his sister Lou are unable to sleep, they find themselves transported back in time and out onto the Downs. To their surprise, they meet Stig, back with his own people, engaged in the construction of four gigantic standing stones. They spend a night camping out with the people of Stig's tribe, and helping to shift the final stone into position before sunrise. As dawn breaks, the tribe disappear and the stones suddenly become ancient and weathered; but Stig is still there.
Barney and Lou do not share their adventures with anyone, and their parents never realise the truth of Stig's existence, although they jokingly talk about him as a kind of magical being that can fix particularly "odd jobs". It is left unclear whether Barney sees much more of Stig, or even whether Stig stays in the rapidly-filling rubbish dump. A figure that resembles Stig is sighted working with junk in various locations around the area; but the book concludes that "perhaps it was only a relative of his", suggesting that Stig may not be the only caveman alive in the modern world.
Stig of the Dump was adapted for television, firstly by Thames Television for ITV in 1981 and later by the BBC in 2002 starring Thomas Sangster, Robert Tannion, Nick Ryan, Geoffrey Palmer, Phyllida Law, Perdita Weeks, and Michaela Dicker. The BBC series won the BAFTA Children's Film & Television Award and its writer, Peter Tabern, received the Best Children's Writer award. The series has been released on DVD.
An extract from Stig of the Dump, featuring new illustrations from Spanish artist Oriol Vidal, was featured in the June 2016 edition of Storytime magazine.
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