The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy

Sid Fleischman

I decided to tackle a Newbery winner since I gave up on reading the whole list a while ago.  This novel is very short (less than one hundred pages), but full of action and adventure.  The story is about a young boy named Jemmy, who is the royal whipping boy.  Whenever the prince misbehaves, Jemmy is the one who receives the punishment.  One night, the prince decides to run away, and drags Jemmy along, beginning a sequence of events that teach the two boys about judging a person too quickly.

I thought the novel moved a bit too slowly, though because of the short chapters, I could see a younger reader very much enjoying it.  I’m sure if one read it over the course of a week, rather than a few hours, the story would have been far more entertaining.  Regardless, I enjoyed the way the characters were crafted and how naturally they learn about one another.  In the beginning of the story, Jemmy is seen as a wise character, but towards the middle it becomes clear that he too has to learn from his mistakes.  All in all, I think young readers (3rd-5th graders) would enjoy this short tale.  For readers like myself, I give it a 3/5

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