The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
I’ve adopted an orphan who I spank and punish every time my children misbehave. That way my children can learn something is wrong, but the only pain they suffer is one of sympathy. I’m kidding, of course. However, that is the basic premise of the book, The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman.
Whipping boys existed in the 15th and 16th centuries because the Divine Right of Kings decreed that to punish a prince would be the same as heresy. The whipping boys were usually actually of noble birth and quite close with the prince so that, in theory, the prince would care when their friends were beaten for their own misdeeds. In the Newberry award winning The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman, the whipping boy is instead an orphan of a rat catcher. The prince feels no sympathy towards the boy, is quite mischievous, and is only disappointed when his whipping boy does not cry when he is beaten. The royal rapscallion is so bored he decides to run away and drags his very reluctant whipping boy along with him. What follows is a romp of an adventure where the boys outwit kidnappers, escape through sewers and befriend pretty young bear tamers. This small book (89 pp) has the perfect children’s story arc with the prince eventually learning what friendship means and he and the whipping boy living happily ever after. I recommend this book for any age that can read at this level (4th grade reading level) as the ‘danger’ is all silly and fun.
– Jessica Wheeler