Monday, May 7, 2012

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

Recommendation: **** (4-star)

A friend recommended this book and it was a great story with some very interesting theological implications in it. Prince Horace is known by everyone in the kingdom as Prince Brat - a very stubborn, lazy and disobedient child.  However, it is unlawful to spank a prince so an orphan boy (Jemmy) is taken from the streets and is the prince's whipping boy. Every time the Prince is to be punished Jemmy is brought out and whipped, taking the punishment for the prince. One night the prince decides to run away and takes Jemmy with him. The wild adventures that follow weave a story of friendship and trust. Can these two boys learn to trust each other? Can the Prince change his ways? Will they be able to return to the castle alive? What will happen if they do return?

Positives: A short story that will be easy for your young reader to read independently or a great story to read as a family. I loved the spiritual lessons that can be brought out in this story.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: There really were whipping boys in England during the 15th and 16th centuries. Ask your kids about how Jesus is like the whipping boy (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 2:24)? How important is it that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins (1 Tim. 2:5-6)? While the illustration of the whipping boy is not perfect, it does help give kids a picture of Christ. You can also talk with your kids about the friendship between the Prince and Jemmy. How did it change? Who changed - the Prince, Jemmy or both? How did they learn to trust each other? Talk about the kings offer of forgiveness at the end, how does this reflect Biblical forgiveness?

Age Level: 4 years of age and up (6 years old to read independently)

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