A chance remark from the lovely @DarkAspie on Twitter made me think of how many times I have re-read books from my childhood, and the impact they have had on me.
I always remember having books. Lots of books. My Dad actually built two whole sets of bookshelves in our living-room with the help of my very practical Granddad, and still there never seemed to be enough space for all the wonderful books we had. I kept most of mine on shelves in my bedroom’s built-in cupboard, and then as the collections grew, in boxes under my bed and around my room.
I’m one of those people that rarely gets rid of a book – they become like members of the family to me. If I like a book I will usually re-read it several times, sometimes almost immediately; other times maybe two or three years after the first time.
Anyway, the book I’ve been thinking about is Stig of the Dump. This is a copy of the book I own:
I used to bring the school booklet home every so often for a begging session – I would have bought all of them! – and my Mum always appeared to let me have a book, which considering we were never exactly well-off does show how much she values reading. I must have been about eight when I received my copy of this, and I don’t recall reading it there and then, although I expect I did. I was and still am a total bookworm; for me there is not really anything better than settling down for an uninterrupted afternoon with a book or my Kindle.
What I guess might be unusual is that I still have my original copy about forty years later. I have re-read it a few times, but the fun for me recently was reading it to my two youngest who were 7 and 6 at the time. B was 7;, and his boyish enthusiasm for messing about in the woods was naturally inclined to reading about a small boy who goes off and not only has adventures getting mucky, but also meets a caveman. As I read it out loud I could vividly recall how I felt turning the pages and wondering what would happen next, and would Stig be OK.
To be honest, I think it might have not gripped M’s imagination in quite the same way as it did B’s, but then wandering off by herself and meeting strangers, especially cavemen who live in a quarry is not top of her exciting things to do list.
I would still recommend this book to any young (or old) reader. It is gloriously pre the days of constant Health and Safety, when you could – and did – roam about from dawn to dusk and came home in time for tea, hopefully without rips in your clothes and no obvious injuries. It also has a rather open ending; you are never quite sure if Stig was real or imagined, but to me that just adds to the magic.
photo taken from Google images. I am not the owner of this image.