Book Review: Stig of the Dump

Stig_Dump

Stig of the Dump  by Clive King

Review

Reading age: 9+

Many books were recommended to me by my teachers at school. One of the titles that jump to mind instantly is Stig of the Dump by Clive King. Before he became an author, King was a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1943. The book was published in 1963, and I think it’s fair to say that it’s a classic! Stig of the Dump is the story of a boy named Barney, who is warned about steering clear of the chalk-pit, and of course, he doesn’t because that’s where he meets Stig. From behaviour to appearance, Barney and Stig have nothing in common, and yet, they soon become inseparable. What follows are a series of exciting and entertaining adventures as the two characters continue to fascinate and learn from each other! I’m not sure which reason can explain why I enjoy this story. Is it the ingenious way that Stig is able to reuse bits and bobs of scrap to design his own home, “the dump”, or is it the fact that Stig and Barney have to figure out their own way of communicating with each other? It could also be Stig’s sense of humour. Even though he never speaks in English, his character has many comical moments (like when he hopes Barney will think that he killed a leopard, when he has actually found it in someone’s rubbish bin). The friendship between the two characters really grows on the reader. Initially, I thought that Barney always gives things to Stig, but clearly, Barney is able to find a few treasures of his own among Stig’s amazing collection of things! After reading this, I have no doubt: one man’s rubbish really can be another man’s gold.

Discussion

1. Who do you think Stig is? Has he found a way to travel back and forth in time? Is he part of Barney and Lou’s imagination? Or perhaps the author uses Stig as a symbol for something else?

2. The book is structured more like a series of short stories that recounts Barney and Stig’s adventures. Why do you think the author chose to  write this way? What effect does it have on the story as a whole?

3. What do you think Barney and Stig’s first impressions of each other were?

4. How do you think Stig felt when Barney saw his “Dump.” Was he proud of what he made? Ashamed?

5. Stig has a lot of elaborate, homemade contraptions in his home. What was one of your favorite contraption moments in the book? What other strange habits has Stig picked up in trying to adapt to his home?

Activities

  • Barney discovers Stig when he accidentally falls off the quarry near his grandmothers house. Create your own character living near your house. How do you discover him/her. Does the character live in the lap of luxury or in squalor like Stig? What is his/her shelter made of? What does he/she do to keep entertained?
  • Imagine you are Stig trying to convince your grandmother that Stig exists. Write a letter to her using lots of descriptive details about where Stig lives, what he looks like, what his personality is like, what his language sounds like, etc.
  • Stig seems out of place in modern times. Imagine you found yourself back in time in Stig’s tribe, like Barney and Lou do. What would be most difficult about living there to you? What would be fun about it? Do you think you would learn to adapt and blend in or not?

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