The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd

The Pavee and the Buffer Girl

Written by Siobhan Dowd
Illustrated by Emma Shoard

11+ readers   13+ readers   
Download an extract Share this book

The Lovereading4Kids comment

Siobhan Dowd’s short story first appeared in an anthology published in 2004. It has lost none of its power to move and the sheer depth and emotion packed into this spare narrative is still breath-taking. The book tells the story of Jim, a young Traveller boy, his experiences at the Buffer school (Buffer is what Travellers call non-Travellers) and his developing friendship with a girl called Kit. The story, told through Jim’s eyes, is vivid, affecting and, though it has more than its share of sadness, ultimately uplifting. Emma Shoard’s equally sensitive and powerful ink and wash illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the text and this is a book to treasure. ~ Andrea Reece

Siobhan Dowd was a passionate defender of human rights and was particularly interested in Traveller communities and the experiences of Traveller young people. She said of her writing: “The protagonists in my stories aren’t human rights heroes in the conventional sense. They are ordinary people living in England and Ireland who find extraordinary ways to overcome the difficulties in their lives and for me that’s the essence of any good story: it’s where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.”

Emma Shoard says, “It’s been wonderful to find out about the lives of Irish Travellers through Siobhan’s story and her characters. I’ve loved bringing them to life through my illustrations and hope that readers will fall for Jim and Kit the way I have.”


The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd

Jim Curran is a Traveller child newly settled in the town of Dundray. In school the Traveller kids suffer at the hands of teachers and other pupils alike, called 'tinker-stinkers', 'dirty gyps' and worse. Then the punches start. The only friendly face is Kit, a settled girl who takes Jim under her wing and teaches him to read in the great cathedral chamber of the cave below the town. With Kit and the reading, Jim seems to have found a way to exist in Dundray, but everyday prejudice and a shocking act of violence see his life uprooted once again.

The story behind this book: Many years ago, the author and editor Tony Bradman approached a contact he knew from the campaigning writers’ organisation PEN to ask for recommendations of writers who might contribute a story about Traveller children to an anthology on racism. That contact was Siobhan Dowd, and she tentatively offered herself to write the story. ‘The Pavee and the Buffer Girl’ would become her first published work.

In the words of Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd “was a woman who worked for human rights charities, who set up the Siobhan Dowd Trust so that after her death the money her books earned would go to help children who needed it, a woman who wanted to tell this story so much, she offered herself – an unpublished writer – as a candidate.”

Patrick goes on to say, “I don’t think she wrote a story about Irish Traveller children because she wanted to preach to us. I think the story burned within her. And I think the reason it burned within her was because it was also an act of compassion, of empathy, an act – dare I say it? – of love.”

Siobhan’s career was cut tragically short by her early death from cancer. The Trust she established in her last days continues the work of taking books to those who cannot access them, like Jim in this story, and his mam.

You can find out more about the Trust at

The Pavee and the Buffer Girl is published by The Bucket List at Barrington Stoke, following on from
previous successful graphic novel Alpha.


smart, clear-eyed, unsentimental tough but full of truth - Patrick Ness

About the Author

Siobhan Dowd

'The protagonists in my stories aren’t human rights heroes in the conventional sense. They are ordinary people living in England and Ireland who find extraordinary ways to overcome the difficulties in their lives and for me that’s the essence of any good story: it’s where the ordinary meets the extraordinary.' – Siobhan Dowd

'In 2007 Siobhan Dowd was voted one of the twenty-five British writers for the future (only three were children’s writers). Everybody should read her.' –David Fickling, the author's publisher

Siobhan Dowd was born in London to Irish parents. She spent much of her youth visiting the family cottage in Aglish, County Waterford, and later the family home in Wicklow Town and went on to study Classics at Oxford.

A Swift Pure Cry, Siobhan's first novel, was published by David Fickling Books, in March 2006. In May 2007 it won many children’s book awards including the prestigious Brandford Boase Award. Her second novel, The London Eye Mystery, was published by David Fickling Books on 7 June 2007. Two further novels were published posthumously in 2008 and 2009, Bog Child, appeared in February 2008, and her fourth novel, Solace of the Road, in February 2009. The former won the prestigious Carnegie Medal.

Tragically, Siobhan died at the age of 47, in August 2007; she had been receiving treatment for advanced breast cancer for three years. Her memory lives on in The Siobhan Dowd Trust, set up to help disadvantaged children in the UK and Ireland discover and experience the joy of reading. Although she was ill, Siobhan personally and energetically supervised its foundation; it was one of the very last things on her mind and clearly, for her, the most pressing cause in our society today.

Siobhan was a writing phenomenon: discovering that she was fatally ill, she put pen to paper and produced four of the most remarkable novels for children you could wish for. Her loss to the world of children’s writing is a tragedy. But it is utterly characteristic that Siobhan should, at the end, put her mind unerringly to the most deserving group of all: the young reader. Siobhan realized that our literary culture - critics, bookshops, agents, publishing, libraries, schools - depends ultimately on the reader. And, of readers, the young reader is the most vulnerable. And amongst young readers, the disadvantaged young reader is the most deprived of all. Siobhan, at the last, and with all her usual clarity, decided to help them. And you can help them too.

The aims of the Trust are simple and direct:

To take stories to our children without stories.

The Siobhan Dowd Trust Books
A Swift Pure Cry
The London Eye Mystery
Bog Child
Solace of the Road

The Trustees

Please log on to for more details about the Trust, about how to donate and about how to apply for support.

More books by this author

Loading similar books...

Other Formats

Book Info


126 pages


Siobhan Dowd
More books by Siobhan Dowd

Author's Website



The Bucket List an imprint of Barrington Stoke Ltd

Publication date

2nd March 2017




It gives me a chance to read types of books that I would not normally try, and it motivates me to read every night to finish it!

Alice Horncastle, age 14

I love Lovereading as it provides an honest opinion and showcases a range of fiction. Suited to both parents & kids alike, it’s a must-use.

Georgie Rowe – age 16

Lovereading is just a convenient way to find new books and hear others opinions on them.

Sarah Murray – age 15

I have told all my friends, family & teachers to see for themselves just how great the site is. Without fail, they are hugely impressed.

Alexander Boxall – age 11

Love “Lovereading4kids” as my son gets to hear about & read new books before his mates which keeps him interested in reading=a very happy Mum

Liz Evans

It has introduced my children to books we hadn’t come across before. Real children’s reviews gives a great insight into what others think to

Lorraine Woods

We love Lovereading4kids because it promotes reading choices, new authors and a sense of community for children of all ages!

Rachel Bridgeman

I am so pleased to have signed my kids up as they are reading a much wider range of books and even choosing books out of their comfort zone.

Angela East

Lovereading 4 schools