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The Whipping Boy

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  24,342 ratings  ·  1,392 reviews

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.


Paperback, 90 pages
Published April 15th 2003 by Greenwillow Books (first published April 14th 1986)
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Ella N. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS Jemmy told the king that in the letter for ransom, pretending to be the prince…moreSPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS Jemmy told the king that in the letter for ransom, pretending to be the prince to fool the outlaws, but he knew it would not trick anyone in the palace.
Short- Jemmy said that in a letter about the cutthroats.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,342 ratings  ·  1,392 reviews

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This has been on my shelf for a while and on my TBR and it’s thin, very compact size; only 89 pages. Today, I sat down and read this. Now, it comes off my TBR.

I knew nothing of this story, but I was pleasantly surprised how this middle grade classic unfolded. A whipping boy is the boy who is whipped instead of a prince since a prince cannot be whipped by law. The prince gets in trouble and some unlucky boy has to take his punishment. It sounds horrible. But this boy learns to read and write whil
Apr 17, 2008 rated it it was ok
As a piece of young adult fiction, The Whipping boy earned a Newberry Award. I'm not sure why. Yes, there are vivid descriptions and some good literary devices used, but the storyline is hardly original and the character development is trite. If you want a fun and easy read about friendship and overcoming prejudice, then perhaps you may enjoy it. But to me, The Whipping Boy does not stand out as a choice children's novel.
Jonathan Peto
Jun 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-chapter
The story is comically told, practically slapstick, so the characters are not deeply drawn. The themes, however, are serious, so it is fun and offers opportunities for extended conversations. I read it with a small group of pre-third and pre-fourth graders who were ESL students. They were able to access the plot and laugh at the situations. The point of view character is Jemmy, a whipping boy. When the prince does something wrong, Jemmy is the one who gets whipped. The prince, who is nicknamed P ...more
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, prologue
Memory lane is a fun place to visit but it is never where one should stay. On occasion I like to revisit past reads to see how much of them I remember and if what I loved about them then still holds up today. This was one of my odd loves and I was a bit confused by it because it wasn’t based on animals, my predominate focus around that particular point in my life. But after stewing over it for a couple of days, I think I finally see the connection. See I’m thinking this read occurred around the ...more
Oct 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Chapter book - historical fiction
Newbery Medal
For grades 3-7

Jemmy is Prince Brat's whipping boy, taking any punishment due to the prince, until the prince decides to run away, taking Jemmy with him and leading them into a series of adventures with notorious outlaws.

This tale is told with plenty of humor and adventure, in an entertaining style that suits the content. Prince Brat and Jemmy begin the story as contrasting characters, but develop a believable affinity as they run from castle, outlaws
This book just cracked me up! Prince Horace is the naughtiest kid around and everyone calls him Prince Brat behind his back. He knows he can get away with anything and Jemmy will have to take his whippings for him. Despite his naughtiness his life his boring and he decides to run away taking his whipping boy with him. What follows is a bunch of random adventures that become more and more exciting as the boys try to escape a couple of crooks who kidnapped them. By the end of their adventures Prin ...more
Jan 02, 2009 rated it liked it

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 g
Shannon McDermott
Here’s a question: Which would you rather be – a rat-catcher or a whipping boy? On the one hand, rat-catchers catch rats. On the other, whipping boys get whipped. A lot.

At least they do when the prince is known throughout the kingdom as Prince Brat. And Jemmy, an orphan plucked from the streets to be His Highness’s whipping boy, knows which he prefers. If he had a choice, he’d exchange his silk and velvet for rags and be back in the sewers in a half-blink of an eye.

But he doesn’t have a choice.
Angie Thompson
I remembered this one from when I was a child, but not most of the details. After reading it again, I can see why I remembered it! I love the clever turns of phrase, the wacky adventures, and the eventual unlikely friendship that develops. Also, it's kind of fun that it takes so long to even start developing. Prince Brat certainly lives up to his name for a lot longer than expected--which makes the transition even better when it starts. :)

Content--one mention of Hell (as a place); a few uses of
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I somehow missed out on a whole lot of great children's literature when I was a child. Maybe Babysitter's Club was just all I needed, lol. As a result of this lit-ignorance, I am just now reading a bunch of we-read-this-in-school kinds of classics. The Whipping Boy is among these.

I picked this from the library with the intent of reading it for my own information. But somehow I am reading it aloud to my kids. They (especially J) are really loving it. I love that J is old enough to pick up on comp
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really like the plot I really like the plot I really like the plot I really like the plot I really like the plot I really like the plot I really like the plot I really like the plot
Luisa Knight
I remember my mom reading this story to us when we were young. It's okay; not a favorite and after a second read, I find it the same. I could see some people liking it though.


Children's Bad Words
Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 2 Incidents: Blast him, what the blazes
Name Calling - 21 Incidents: Your Royal Awfulness, rascal, Grand Turnip of China, dim-witted, royal tadpole, numskulls, Catchpenny rogues, curs, cloven-footed blockheads, donkeys, greedy little snipe, nitwits, dunce, bl
Jon M
Apr 07, 2014 rated it did not like it
This is a terrible book that I was forced to read in fifth grade. I was put into a group of other kids who were also made to read this miserable piece of fiction against our will, and it was so bad, that I was able to persuade my teacher to put me in another group. I thought it'd be better, but everyone else in that group were way ahead of me and understood a lot of it. It was called "The Westing Game" and it was by some guy who doesn't know how to write, and it would take me forever to catch up ...more
Laura Harrison
May 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Great choice for reluctant readers. Quite a slight book. I know it is a hit with children who want a short read when choosing a book from their summer reading list. Good writing and a few action packed pages but not my favorite Newbery.
zane deann
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Allison was right. Bland. 😶
h n i n ☾
I read this at 4th grade, literature circle :)
I so remember reading this book when I was young; and I feel like I relatively liked it. I picked it up again to read as a read aloud to my class of eighth graders (below their level, yes, but engaging [mostly] nonetheless) for something "quick". I had no recollection of how different the language was or how odd the storytelling.

This is the story of Jemmy, a whipping boy, and Prince Brat (Horace), a prince ..., and the adventures [trouble] they find themselves in when they run away from the cast
Duffy Pratt
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens
A slim book with a slim story. There's a Prince and his whipping boy. The whipping boy takes the punishment when the prince does bad, which he does with regularity. Bored, the prince runs away and drags the whipping boy along as his "manservant." They encounter cutthroat highwaymen, dancing bears, a potato vendor, rat-catchers, and other things out of the realm of the prince's experience. In the process, the two bond.

The story is lively enough. The language simple, sometimes engaging, but often
Nancy Kotkin
An older Newbery winner that isn't dated, since it's historical fiction. There's a note in the back of my copy stating that the concept of the whipping boy as a stand-in to take punishment for a misbehaving royal is actually historical fact, though this is a fictional story. The story is rather short but fairly fleshed out for the target audience of upper chapter book readers and lower middle grade. The highlight of the book is the relationship that develops between the bratty prince and the rat ...more
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great read aloud. A young prince seems to be terribly spoiled, even to the point of being called Prince Brat. He decides to run off with his whipping boy and they have some great adventures- The prince makes some good changes to his behavior and he develops a good friendship with Jemmy too. Lots of new vocab in this book. It is good to show the changes in a character over time.
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

The Whipping Boy is a slim historical fiction novel that won the Newbery Medal back in 1987. It’s the story of Prince Horace, also called Prince Brat, who often misbehaves on purpose in order to see his whipping boy, Jemmy, get punished. When the prince runs away and Jemmy follows, they fall in with some criminals and must switch places in order to outsmart them and make their escape.

Of all the relationships presented in children’s books, thi
Aj Sterkel
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
The Good: A Newbery winner that kids might actually like? Who knew it was possible? There are a lot of Newbery winners that I wouldn’t have been able to get through as a kid, but this isn’t one of them. I might have actually enjoyed this story. It’s a lightning-fast, humorous adventure about a prince and his whipping boy who accidently run away together. At first they hate each other, but when they’re taken hostage by thieves, they have to put their differences aside to escape.

This novel is only
Oct 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: kidsbooks
I'm currently reading this as a read aloud with my students. Talk about language that is not used a lot today.

This is a good story, and we've had some awesome little discussions already in class.
Nicole Ramundo
May 11, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book was HORRIBLE! Seriously, what kind of nickname is Prince Brat? A bad one! Whoever hasn't read this book, lucky you. Whoever has, :( I'm sorry you did.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was this movie we watched sometimes at my house -- Prince Brat and the Whipping Boy -- and I liked it a lot. I didn't even know it was a book until I saw it recently on a friend's shelf, so of course I had to borrow it!

I didn't expect the book to match the movie exactly, because most book-to-movie conversions don't; and indeed it did not match exactly, but it was still full of the phrases and lessons that I'd enjoyed in the film. Some of the characters were a little different, and there we
Nathan B
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
The Whipping Boy is a very short book. It can fall under either historical fiction or as a classical book for its genre. I give it a 3-star because since it was so short a lot of events happened too quickly with minimal description and stuff went by way too fast. If the author would've put more detail and description into the book I think this book would have been much better. I recommend this book to anyone who is behind in the 40-Book Challenge and needs a quick book done.
Ms. Martian
This is a really fun, fast book that I had somehow missed until now. Even though this book has a familiar storyline, it is very well-written and has a quick pace that made it a pleasurable read..
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Read this for school and the kids loved it!
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it
"The Whipping Boy" was indeed a children's book. After reading "The Hunger Games," this book seemed incredibly simple, granted it should be that way. It seemed like hardly right after a problem had arisen, it had already been solved. For example, the boys were out walking and needed to get into the city, away from the bad guys and into a place where Jemmy knew where to hide. Conveniently, a hot potato man comes rolling around the bend. After being caught by the bad guys and Prince Brat is being ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I thought this book was a great way to teach a lesson through adventure. Throughout the book you can really see the main characters developing in many different ways such as: their opinions towards each other, what's important to them and their true personalities. This book is a great way to show children that before you judge someone sometimes you have to take a walk in their shoes because you don't know what they're going through. I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book because at times ...more
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4th term book review 1 3 Apr 25, 2018 01:29PM  

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As a children's book author Sid Fleischman felt a special obligation to his readers. "The books we enjoy as children stay with us forever -- they have a special impact. Paragraph after paragraph and page after page, the author must deliver his or her best work." With almost 60 books to his credit, some of which have been made into motion pictures, Sid Fleischman can be assured that his work will m ...more

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