Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

The Whipping Boy is one of those classics books that I always felt I should read, but never did. So when S picked it up off the audio book shelf I was glad to finally have the chance to hear the story.  We all enjoyed it immensely!  It was a wonderful story with lots of action and a good message. The setting of the story is during the middle ages which gave great opportunities for historical educational tie-ins.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Jemmy, a street orphan.  Jemmy has the unlucky job of being the prince's whipping boy. This job entails being whipped whenever the prince is bad, since the prince can never be punished.  The prince, whose nickname is Prince Brat, takes great pleasure in getting in trouble and watching Jemmy get punished.  While Jemmy is plotting his escape from the castle the prince discovers him and forces Jemmy to take the him along.  Many adventures follow as two boys gradually learn a thing or to from each other and finally become friends. The story is filled with colorful characters such as Cutthroat, Hold-Your-Nose-Billy, Betsy and her dancing bear, and Mr Nibs the Hot-Potato Man.

The old fashioned language, different accents and dialects might make this a challenging read for younger kids or reluctant readers.  It would be a wonderful family read aloud or audio book for a long trip in the car--parents will enjoy it just as much as the kids!

Newberry Medal winner - 1987

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