Monday, October 5, 2009

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

The Newbery Winner of 1987 (and illustrated by the great Peter Sis) The Whipping Boy was a surprisingly funny read, complete with dancing bear, blundering con men and a bratty prince with an untapped heart. Even kids who are not necessarily interested in historical fiction will find points of interest in this book. The story is told from the perspective of the prince's whipping boy, an orphan named Jemmy. If you, like me, before I read this book, have no idea what a whipping boy is, it's a designated person to suffer punishments on the prince's behalf. Since the prince in this tale is rotten, Jemmy takes many whippings, a fact the prince cares about very little. When they run away together, Prince Brat (as he is also called) begins to learn the errors of his ways, and he and Jemmy strike up an unlikely friendship. At 89 pages long, even more reluctant readers will be unafraid to pick up this absurd little tale of empathy, trust and friendship. Perfect for early readers making the transition to chapter books, with a pleasantly snarky narrative voice.

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