We just finished Stig of the Dump by Clive King as a read-aloud. It was greatly enjoyed by Antonia and would be a fine choice for all the ‘last child in the woods’ types. If you appreciate the contrast between attending a fancy dress party in a caveman and leopard costume made from things found in a dump versus a shepherdess costume ordered specially from London, you’ll see what I mean. It’s quite a mechanically minded sort of book too, in that it goes into lots of detail about how Barney, the hero, actually goes about, for e.g., lowering things into chalk pits, building a chimney with tin cans and windows from jam jars etc.
Stig was one of the books that was supposed to be a classic when I was young, though somehow I missed it first time round. The most unexpected thing was the time-travel or magical element that allows Stig, the prehistoric boy to meet Barney and Lou. It was definitely there but quite understated compared to my expectations. It just kind of happens without much fuss, but most of the story is extremely concrete and everyday. Well actually, apart from the bit with the burglars, which was a bit Enid Blyton, but fun anyway.