Dan's Reviews > The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
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's review
Jan 03, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: newbery-medal-winners
Read in December, 2008


Jemmy is the prince's whipping boy, a job that means he gets punished any time the prince misbehaves. Tired of the injustice, he decides to run away. Before he can, the prince decides to run away instead, dragging Jemmy along for the ride. Soon, they are kidnapped by two highwaymen who mistake Jemmy for the prince. Now, with their roles reversed, it's Jemmy that controls whether or not the prince will get whipped. Will he help the young prince to return home? Or use the opportunity to get away?

Personal thoughts:

This book is simple, but entertaining. It's a quick, easy read. I remember reading it at some point during elementary school and enjoying it then. Reading it lately, though, it seems that it might hold more interest for kids than adults.

I was pleased to see how Jemmy's character develops over the course of the book. At first, he can think of nothing but his opportunity to get away. He has concerns for the prince, but only because he's worried that the King and others will think he helped the prince get kidnapped. Over time, though, he starts to feel more empathy for the prince.

I also really enjoyed the fact that eventually, Jemmy realizes all the things he would be giving up by returning to be a rat catcher in the sewers. His life as a whipping boy is certainly less than ideal, but he also realizes that the education he has received perhaps merits something better than the scavenging life he knew before.

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