June 2017


The Whipping Boy

by Sid Fleischman

Prince Horace is so naughty that everyone calls him Prince Brat. But the prince is not allowed to be spanked. So an orphan boy named Jemmy is taken from the streets to be the prince’s whipping boy. When Prince Brat decides to run away, he takes Jemmy with him. The boys begin a wild adventure that lands them in the clutches of two thieving cutthroats! Can Jemmy use his street smarts to outwit his kidnappers and free himself and the prince?

A Note from the First Lady

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

The Whipping Boy tells a medieval tale of two unlikely friends, Prince Horace and Jemmy from the streets. When the prince has a rebellious impulse to run away from his boring life at the castle, he asks Jemmy to come with him. The differences between Jemmy and the prince become evident quickly – especially when they are captured and held for ransom by two disheveled vagabonds!

Jemmy and Prince Brat must work together to escape the cutthroat criminals, and they might even learn something from each other along the way. I hope you enjoy this clever tale, and always remember that there is more to learn – even from the most unlikely people and places!

Keep up the great reading!

Crissy Haslam
First Lady of Tennessee


Fun Family Activities for the Book of the Month

Character Development
Throughout the boys’ adventure, we see a bit of a change in Prince Brat. What changes do you see happening with the prince? Why do you think Prince Brat wanted to run away in the first place? How do you think Jemmy helped Prince Brat change? Draw a Venn diagram. On one side, write the characteristics of Prince Brat before the journey. On the other side, write the changes that you noticed. In the middle, list any traits of the prince that you think stayed the same.

Historical Context
Jemmy is taken away from his family and his life on the streets to be Prince Brat’s whipping boy. What is a whipping boy’s job? Why does the castle need a whipping boy? Did you know that in The Middle Ages, some castles really did have whipping boys? Click here to visit your local library to research more about why this was a custom in some places. Read about the Manor System and Feudalism to understand why there was such an imbalance of power.

Engaging with the Text
Imagine you are Prince Brat. You have been asked to write a newspaper article about what you learned on your journey outside of the castle walls for the royal newspaper. Write this article and draw a picture to accompany the text. Make sure to come up with a creative title for your article as well!

Descriptive Vocabulary
Author Sid Fleischman uses some creative and outlandish vocabulary words to set the stage for certain characters, passages, or events that happen during the story. Find 10 words in the book that you don’t know the meaning of and look them up in the dictionary. Why do you think that the author chose to use these words in his depictions?  Describe the story’s villains, Hold-Your-Nose-Billy and Cutwater, in your own words. Now try describing them using some of the new words that you learned!

Further Reading
Read author Sid Fleischman’s autobiography, The Abracadabra Kid. What similarities do you notice between the author’s own life and the tale of The Whipping Boy? How do you think his life impacted this story? Do you think every author brings their personal experiences into their writing? Why or why not?