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The Whipping Boy (2003)

The Whipping Boy (2003)
3.52 of 5 Votes: 3
0060521228 (ISBN13: 9780060521226)
greenwillow books
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The Whipping Boy (2003)
The Whipping Boy (2003)

About book: 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. And then, one night, Prince Brat embarks on his greatest piece of mischief yet – running away.The Whipping Boy, written by Sid Fleischman, is a classic of children’s literature. It’s a slim book – less than one hundred pages, with a large type and generous margins. The writing is direct, in both style and substance. The setting-up takes two chapters, a total of five pages – for unlike the book, we are not counting illustrations.Brief the author may be, but his strokes are sure and bold. Characters leap brightly from the pages, knowable and entirely their own. Every once in a while, Sid Fleischman turns fine, evocative phrases in his short sentences – “a thoroughbred of the streets”, “fuming like a stovepipe”, the moon gazing “down like an evil eye”.Places, too, are drawn out in a few vivid words – the great sewers, the dark, garlicky hut, the mist-filled forest (“Forests is creepy things,” the whipping boy says. “Gimme cobbled streets any time.”). The book is in written in that way: skilled, pleasing, and simple.The king is unnamed, the kingdom and the city nameless, and the time is undefined. Details suggest the eighteenth century – but what does it matter? The Whipping Boy is, in this, like a fairy tale, and it breathes free of any place on a map or time in a chronology.There is an abiding simplicity in The Whipping Boy. And simplicity, when done by a master, can be a marvelous thing. This story runs and dodges, treating us to adventure and comedy, and at its heart it is a sympathetic view of two boys – both, in their way, deprived. The Whipping Boy is a children’s book, but like all truly excellent works for children, it can be enjoyed by adults, too. No one is too old for the humor of this book, or the adventure, or the humanity.

"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 whipped, the girl with the dancing bear just happens to appear and come to the boys' rescue. Once they escape, and are in need of transportation again, they run into the hot potato man broken down on a hill not far off. Although it was a little predictable and unrealistic, it is a children's book and I'm sure I would have been a little more engaged by it as a child. I think the story taught a good lesson in friendship and sticking up for those who you don't particularly like or owe anything to. When Jemmy had the chance to ride off with the hot potato man, he doesn't take the opportunity but instead realizes that Prince Brat is in need and allowing him to come along is the right thing to do. I think the novel also teaches a good moral lesson about how wealth isn't everything and that it pays to pay attention in school/your lessons. Jemmy mentions several times how downtrodden Prince Brat looks, or how he finally saw a glimmer of a smile, or heard him laugh for the first time. Even Prince Brat mentions that running away is the most fun he's ever had, though he has all the riches he could ever want. Lastly, Jemmy listening to Prince Brat's lessons well enough to know how to read and write saved them and allowed them to trick the bad guys. Doing what is right, being a good friend, knowing that money is not everything and to pay attention in school are all good lessons for young children to learn.
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Duffy Pratt
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 just bland. The characters are exactly what you would expect -- the pampered prince who seeks some real experience, the clever and independent whipping boy. And the whole thing is cute, but veered too often toward the condescending for my taste. I would like this just a bit more if Fleischman did not rub our faces so thoroughly in the points he is trying to make for the kids. The best kids literature is just good literature. The obvious moralizing, it seems to me, rests upon an understanding of kids as being less savvy than they actually are. But otherwise, I thought this was a well-told, fairly enjoyable, but sliht tale.
Philip Carlson
The Whipping Boy is the story of a young Prince and his "whipping boy", Jemmy, a local peasant who is responsible for taking the punishment for the Prince's actions. Because of his selfish and child-like acts, the Prince is known only as "Prince Brat" by the people in his Kingdom. Prince Brat and Jemmy have little in common until one day they both find themselves on an adventure outside the protection of the Kingdom walls. Prince Brat and Jemmy must learn to put their differences aside and work together in order to survive the difficulties and challenges of this new world. By learning what life is like in the shoes of the other, both Jemmy and Prince Brat begin to realize the value of friendship and their importance to each other. In taking up the company of the unusual people they meet along the way, Both Jemmy and Prince Brat manage to return safely to the Kingdom, but their views on life have been changed forever. I thoroughly enjoyed the moral of this story as it was presented to the reader in a way that could be easily imagined in our own lives. Sometimes we need to step aside and view our actions through the eyes of others in order to fully understand the impact these actions have on others. Although this story is a work of realistic fiction, the lesson provided in its content is as valid today as the day it was written. Elementary age students could easily identify with the adventures of Jemmy and Prince Brat as they imagine their own challenges faced in a world they are unfamiliar with. The concepts of teamwork and applying skills are both topics that could be incorporated into the reading of this story. By understanding the backgrounds of each character, students will realize that being humble is a much better approach than being almighty. As students begin to relate with the events that unfold in the story, they begin to form their own ideas of ways they can be a better friend in the classroom. These characteristics are highly sought in the elementary setting, and will help develop learners who value the efforts of others as much as they value their own.
Whitney Watercutter
It isn't that I didn't "like" this book, it's just that the book is too short. It fell just shy of being a really great story, but it was underdeveloped and rushed. I feel like there is a really engrossing story in the bones of this book, but double the length would be needed to expose it. I really liked the characters of Prince Brat and Jemmy, and felt that there could be more to their story. Maybe the author will write a sequel geared more towards older readers who remember the story and would like a bit more.
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