Written in 2003 by Sid Fleischman, The Whipping Boy is a humorous tale of adventure in an eighteenth-century setting with some serious underlying social themes. The two main characters are Prince Horace, the heir to the throne. He is spoiled, arrogant, deceitful, and more than mischievous. He is, in fact, known throughout the land as "Prince Brat" because he is held in such low esteem by his future subjects.
The second major character is a boy named Jemmy who is a child of the streets, quick witted and smart. It is Jemmy's misfortune to be snatched up and taken into the royal household where he is forced to act as the "whipping boy." Since by law the Prince cannot be whipped for his misdeeds, Jemmy takes the whipping when Horace misbehaves, which is often. What happens to them and how a genuine friendship forms between them makes up the narrative.
The novel features also features some very colorful, and at times quite funny, minor characters, including two young villains, Hold-Your-Nose Billy and Cutwater. Other minor characters include the Prince's tutor Master Peckwit, Betsy with her dancing bear, and Captain Nips.
I just want to add a clarification to the other answer. The characters are correct, and accurately described. However, the book was written in 1986, and received the Newberry Honor in 1987.