Dash is living and breathing Dog Man 24 hours a day this summer. One thing he and Lucy like about it is how some of the titles are references to “real” books, so we came up with the “fun” idea of doing a Dog Man book club. We had lots of titles to pick from; Of Mice and Men and A Tale of Two Cities were top contenders, but since Dash is counting the days until Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas comes out, we decided to start there. So this became the summer I read Lord of the Flies to my 11 and 7 year olds. Not the greatest idea I ever had, in retrospect.
First of all, this book absolutely sucks to read out loud. There is so much dense description, tons of back and forth dialogue where it’s hard to keep track of who’s talking, weird contractions like “Samneric” and “littluns” that are awkward to say, and you have to say “ululations” about a million times. That is a hard word to say. It brought back memories of the Rainbow Fairies years, when Rachel and Kirsty gasped every single damn time mean Jack Frost did anything at all. Say gasped out loud. It’s like 20 syllables. Calm down, Rachel and Kirsty.
On top of that, it was definitely not appropriate for a seven year old, and questionable at best for an 11 year old. Dash had a hard time paying attention to this, and usually was flipping through Dog Man while we were reading it, which was fine. Lucy was very into it; a pig killing scene was a little graphic for her, but otherwise she found it more riveting than disturbing. This was my first time reading it too, but there is a whole lot of Lord of the Flies in the tap water, so I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into. Still, I was on the edge of my seat toward the end. Are they going to get rescued? Will we find out Piggy’s real name? And by the way, where were all these English prep school boys who don’t know each other flying to in the first place? I needed CliffsNotes for this one, tbh.
Despite the fact that I kind of regret reading it to them in the first place, we all really liked it. Dash absorbed a surprising amount of it, considering how little attention he seemed to be paying. I was annoyed that it’s presented as a story of human nature, as if white prep school boy is the default setting for humanity. But I can turn that stuff off now and then, and I mostly loved it, and I loved Piggy, and I want a tattoo of his broken glasses. Or maybe the broken glasses from Time Enough At Last.
Lucy loved this the most. She had very strong feelings about every character, and she managed to follow the details of the story better than anyone else. She really hates Jack. And she was the only one who didn’t forget about the boy with the mark on his face. Rest in power, Mulberry Birthmark Boy. What both kids liked most was thinking of other things in pop culture that clearly had a Lord of the Flies influence. They’ve seen the Castle Rock logo, and they could think of a couple Simpsons episodes that applied. But most exciting of all was how it potentially inspired our secret favorite show. “Mom, the guy who created Survivor definitely read Lord of the Flies.”
My kids were too young for Lord of the Flies this summer, but just like I survived V.C. Andrews, they’ll survive Ralph and Jack. We finished this book on a camping trip in the woods where they were mostly free range and feral, which felt very fitting. Dash seemed especially in danger of going savage. Don’t do it, Dash!