The Whipping Boy is a well-written adventure story that on its surface is as funny as anything Fleischman has written. Beneath this humorous surface, however, is a dark story suffused with an intense indignation at the plight of an innocent child snatched from the streets and made a victim of an unjust social convention. Although the convention of the royal whipping boy no longer exists, modern children are still being victimized, and tough, quick-witted street kids soon learn to be as resourceful as Jemmy in facing seemingly hopeless situations. Fleischman intricately blends witty situations into his expert plotting to make serious social points without falling into moralizing. A great strength of The Whipping Boy is the way it simultaneously entertains and instructs.
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