Skip to main content

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman, illustrations by Peter Sis 88pp RL3


"The young prince was known here and there (and just about everywhere else) as Prince Brat. Not even black cats would cross his path," is how the Newbery Winner, The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman, begins. If this doesn't catch your child's attention, I'm not sure what will.

Jemmy, the whipping boy of the title, receives the corporal punishment meant for Prince Horace, since it not permitted to strike a royal. But, Jemmy never howls when he is hit and the Prince is furious and continually threatens to send Jemmy back to the streets in the rags he came in with. Instead, after a year, the Prince runs away and forces Jemmy to come along as his manservant. Almost immediately, they are captured by the ruffians Hold-Your-Nose-Billy and Cutwater. The prince stupidly reveals his true identity, and blunders into further trouble when he is forced to write his own ransom note and cannot even spell his name. The ruffians begin to suspect that Jemmy, who can write, is the real Prince Horace and the ignorant fellow is the whipping boy. Jemmy writes the note and the scoundrels proposes they send Prince Horace/the whipping boy, to the castle to deliver the note.

Thinking that this will allow him to be free of Prince Horace, who, by all rights should be pleased to flee the kidnappers and return to the castle, Jemmy is surprised when the Prince will not play along, and even betrays him as he tries to escape. But, escape they do. They meet Betsey, a girl with a dancing bear named Petunia and hitch a ride from Captain Harry Nips, Hot-Potato Man before they are captured once again. The ruffians proceed to punish the whipping boy - Prince Horace - for their escape and Jemmy looks on as the Prince takes his blows in stony silence.

The boys make it to the nearest town where they enjoy the fair and learn that their disappearance has become news. Jemmy and the Prince decide to hide in the sewers where Jemmy used to catch rats to sell and are almost captured by the brutes one last time. After escaping into the daylight, the Prince decides it is time for both of them to return to the castle, despite the fact that the king thinks Jemmy kidnapped the Prince and there is a reward out on his head. Doing the first kind thing ever in his life, Prince Brat convinces Captain Harry and Betsey to return him to the castle and collect the reward. Once there, all is set to right without even one whipping.

Sid Fleischman is a great, diverse writer, often tackling different aspects of history. This is a superb book for its humor and plot as well as its length - it is one of the better books under 100 pages out there and it should appeal to boys and girls.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…