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Book Review: The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman

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A shout comes echoing up the stairway “Fetch the whipping boy!”

A
young orphan named Jemmy rouses from his sleep. “Ain’t I already been
whipped twice today? Gaw! What’s the prince done now? It was forbidden
to spank, thrash, or whack the heir to the throne. Jemmy had been
plucked from the streets to serve as whipping boy to the arrogant and
spiteful Prince Brat.

Dreaming of running away, Jemmy finds himself trapped in Prince Brat’s own dream—at once brash and perilous.
In
this briskly told tale of high adventure, taut with suspense and rich
with colorful characters, the whipping boy and Prince Brat must at last
confront each other.

Award-winning author Sid Fleischman again blends the broadly comic with the deeply compassionate in this memorable novel.

***

There are a few books that every child should read while growing up, and this Newberry Medal winner is one of them.  I read this book for the first time as a young girl, and I read it again the other day.

It is a quick, light read without too much garble to sift through.  The intended audience are young readers and middle grade children, and the level of danger and suspense reflect that.

The Whipping Boy is full of adventure, laughs, and an unlikely friendship.  It is a wonderful study of the injustices of history and the natures of the people affected by them.  It portrays the innocence of youth, and the disillusionment that comes as part of growing up.

Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books; Reprint edition (April 15, 2003)

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