Monday, October 15, 2007

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

From For kids to get their dose of action and thrills, they need not always go to the local multiplex for the latest bang 'em up film. They could try such books as The Whipping Boy, which relies not on exploding spaceships and demonic robots but mythic story, humorous characters and, ready or not, a moral. The plot involves the orphan Jemmy, who must take the whippings for the royal heir, Prince Brat. Jemmy plans to flee this arrangement until Prince Brat beats him to it, and takes Jemmy along. Jemmy then hears he's charged with the Prince's abduction as this Newbery Medal winning book turns toward a surprising close.

My take: Lest I sound like Amazon though I have to agree with every word said. This is a wonderful book, a quick read in just 90 pages, which relies solidly on a good yarn. No bells and whistles, just storytelling at its best.

It is funny yet a poignant tale of two boys who have absolutely nothing in common. But in the face of ferocious bandits, they discover how it is to step into each other's shoes, literally ... and surprisingly, develop a lasting friendship. The whipping boy and Prince Brat - a prince and a pauper - are boys at heart after all.

As a parent you may need to explain that violent punishments were a thing of the olden days, lest younger kids get scared of the descriptions of the lashings on poor old Jemmy.

[Originally posted on my blog]

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