Ibis3's Reviews > The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
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's review
Jun 29, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, american, free, illustrated, imaginary-country, siy20, suspense, twentieth-century
Read from June 29 to 30, 2012

Not bad. I did like the writing style in its echoes of the 19th century. Not sure why exactly it was selected as the Newbery winner, as it didn't seem to say anything new or even mildly original. However, it was enjoyable to read and I'd recommend as a light, fairy-tale like story (sans supernatural elements) for kids aged about 6-10 (the back cover says 8-12, but I think that's too old--it may have been bumped up because there are two incidents described of a child being whipped). Liked the illustrations in black & white by Peter Sis.

On my "Social Issues Report Card" that I do for kids' books, it's rather neutral. The story takes place in a pseudo-England of the 16th-18th-ish century and everything is pretty much as one would expect from that: white boys and white men are the main characters and are in all positions of power, there are no PoC at all, there's no reference to race or alternative sexuality, and it fails the Bechdel test.

Presence of Sexism: C+
Difficult. Since this is an imaginary setting, the author could have chosen to lose some of the patriarchy (e.g. by having a Queen as the monarch and parent or having the tutor be a woman or have the rat-catcher friend be a woman, or even the Prince be a Princess instead). However, it would have been more obviously anachronistic and thereby perhaps compromised the author's intent too much. At the same time, there's no obvious disparaging of girls or women, so it's not a failing grade.

Presence of Heterosexism: N/A
There are no couples (unless you count the two thieves, but there's no suggestion that they are more than business partners) or romance in the story.

Presence of Racism: C+
The same comment applies to racism as to sexism. There isn't any ethnic diversity but there's no overt racism either.

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