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The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy


Author: Sid Fleischman

Unit by Ginger A.
ISBN: 0060521228
Review:  For kids to get their dose of action and thrills, they need not always go to the local multiplex for the latest bang 'em up film. They could try such books as The Whipping Boy, which relies not on exploding spaceships and demonic robots but mythic story, humorous characters and, ready or not, a moral. The plot involves the orphan Jemmy, who must take the whippings for the royal heir, Prince Brat. Jemmy plans to flee this arrangement until Prince Brat beats him to it, and takes Jemmy along. Jemmy then hears he's charged with the Prince's abduction as this Newbery Medal winning book turns toward a surprising close.



The unit is designed for use in the upper elementary grade levels. Younger children would enjoy listening to the story and participating in the art activities.


Language Arts

There are two lists of words. The first should be used as a vocabulary list. Look up each word in a dictionary and then write the definition in your own words. The second list should be defined from the context. The words on list two should definitely be included in writing assignments!

List One













List Two [page number is given]

Cutthroat [40]

Scribblement [19]

Flummox [56, 80]

Parley [34]

Aggravexed [41]

Mudlarking [51]

Abducticated [68]


Writing Projects

After reading the story organize the story on the circle plot diagram found at


Create a Reward Poster for Prince Brat. Draw a picture of the Brat and write his description. Include the amount of the reward.





What is a ballad? See page 12-13 of The Whipping Boy. Hold-Your-Nose Billy has been put to song by the ballad sellers. Here is the definition from this site.

BALLAD: In common parlance, song hits, folk music, and folktales or any song that tells a story are loosely called ballads. In more exact literary terminology, a ballad is a narrative poem consisting of quatrains of iambic tetrameter alternating with iambic trimeter. Common traits of the ballad are that (a) the beginning is often abrupt, (b) the story is told through dialogue and action (c) the language is simple or "folksy," (d) the theme is often tragic--though comic ballads do exist, and (e) the ballad contains a refrain repeated several times. One of the most important anthologies of ballads is F. J. Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Famous medieval and Renaissance examples include "Chevy Chase," "The Elfin Knights," "Lord Randal," and "The Demon Lover." A number of Robin Hood ballads also exist. More recent ballads from the 18th century and the Scottish borderlands include "Sir Patrick Spens," "Tam Lin," and "Thomas the Rhymer." See also ballade and common measure.


Read The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. [If you have the Hallmark movie Anne of Green Gables this is the poem she recited to raise money for the hospital. She is very dramatic] Have the student read this aloud. Encourage him to use his voice and gestures to “paint a picture” for his listeners.


The Highwayman

Alfred Noyes

Part One
The wind was a torrent of darkness
among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon
tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight
over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding,
up to the old inn door.
He'd a French cocked hat on his forehead,
a bunch of lace at his chin;
A coat of the claret velvet,
and breeches of brown doe-skin.
They fitted with never a wrinkle:
his boots were up to his thigh!
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle,
his rapier hilt a-twinkle,
His pistol butts a-twinkle,
under the jeweled sky.
Over the cobbles he clattered
and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters,
but all was
 locked and barred,
He whistled a tune to the window,
and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter--
Bess, the landlord's daughter--
Plaiting a dark red love-knot
into her long black hair.
And dark in the dark old inn-yard
a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim, the ostler listened;
his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness,
his hair like moldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter--
the landlord's red-lipped daughter;
Dumb as a dog he listened,
and he heard the robber say--
"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart;
I'm after a prize to-night,
but I shall be back with the yellow gold
before the morning light.
Yet if they press me sharply,
and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight,
though hell should bar the way."
He stood upright in the stirrups;
he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair i' the casement!
His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume
came tumbling ov'er his breast,
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
(Oh sweet black waves in the moonlight!),
Then he tugged at his reins in the moonlight,
and galloped away to the West.
Part Two
He did not come in the dawning;
he did
 not come at noon.
And out o' the tawny sunset,
before the rise o' the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon
looping the purple moor,
The redcoat troops came marching--
King George's men came marching,
up to the old inn-door.
They said no word to the landlord;
they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her
to the foot of her narrow bed;.
Two of them knelt at her
with muskets by their side!;
There was death at every window;
And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement,
the road that he would ride.
They had bound her up at attention,
with many a sniggering jest!
hey had tied a rifle beside her,
with the barrel beneath her breast!
Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her.
She heard the dead man say --
"Look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight,
though hell should bar the way." 
She twisted her hands behind her,
but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers
were wet with sweat or blood!
they stretched and strained in the darkness,
and the hours crawled by like years,
ill, now, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it!
The trigger at least was hers!
The tip of one finger touched it;
she strove no more for the rest;
Up, she stood up at attention,
with the barrel beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing,
she would not strive again,
For the road lay bare in the moonlight,
Blank and bare in the moonlight,
And the blood in her veins, in the moonlight
throbbed to her love's refrain.
Tlot tlot; tlot tlot! Had they heard it?
The horse-hooves, ringing clear;
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance!
Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight,
over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding
Riding, riding!
The redcoats looked to their priming!
She stood up straight and still.
Tlot tlot, in the frosty silence!
Tlot tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and
Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment,
she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight--
Her musket shattered the moonlight--
Shattered her breast in the moonlight
and warned him--with her death.
He turned, he spurred to the West;
he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket,
drenched in her own red blood!
Not till the dawn did he hear it,
and his face grew grey to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight,
and died in the darkness there.
Back, he spurred like a madman,
shrieking a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him
and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs i' the golden noon,;
wine-red was his velvet coat
When they shot him down on the highway,
Down like a dog in the highway,
 he lay in his blood in the highway,
with the bunch of lace at his throat.
And still on a winter's night, they say,
when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon
tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road a ribbon of moonlight
over the purple moor,
The highwayman comes riding--
The highwayman comes riding,
up to the old inn-door.
Over the cobbles he clatters
and clangs in the dark inn-yard,
He taps with his whip on the shutters,
but all is locked and barred,
He whistles a tune to the window,
and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot
into her long black hair.


If you aren’t fond of the Highwayman here is a different ballad.



Laura E. Richards


Antonio, Antonio

Was tired of living alonio.

He thought he would woo

Miss Lissamy Lu,

Miss Lissamy Lucy Molonio.


Antonio, Antonio,

Rode off on his polo-ponio.

He found the fair maid

In a bowery shade,

A-sitting and knitting alonio.


Antonio, Antonio,

Said, "If you will be my ownio,

I'll love you true,

And I'll buy for you

An icery creamery conio!"


Oh, Nonio, Antonio!

You're far too bleak and bonio!

And all that I wish,

You singular fish,

Is that you will quickly begonio."


Antonio, Antonio,

He uttered a dismal moanio;

Then he ran off and hid

(Or I'm told that he did)

In the Antecatarctical Zonio.




If you want to take a side trip and explore ballads this page contains many ballads and the music. This will take you to Barbara Allen.





The child can write some story problems based on the theme of The Whipping Boy. The parent should work the problems to determine if the necessary information is included.


Measuring skills will be incorporated into the cooking activity.


If you have a set of Tangrams have your child create some castle designs for a younger child. This site has a lot of online math activites including Tangrams. [The theme is dragons so you may or may not want to use it. I have NOT looked at everything on this site, just the Tangrams.]


Construct a castle using cardboard or download instructions from this site. I haven’t tried this yet. This also has directions for shields.


If you have any books in the Sir Cumference series they would be great to read.


Cookery/ Clipart this site has lots of interesting medieval recipes, clipart and folklore. The following Gingerbread recipe is from this site. All ages would have fun with this. It is very different than our modern form of Gingerbread.


        Gingerbread Recipe

Bring the honey to a boil and skim off any scum. Keeping the pan over very low heat, add the spices, adjusting the quantities to suit your taste. Add the food coloring "if you will have it red." Then begin to slowly beat in the bread crumbs. Add just enough bread to achieve a thick, stiff, well-blended mass. Remove from the heat and turn the mixture into a container or bowl to cool. When cool, take a rolling pin & spread the gingerbread evenly out into a square shape, ½ to 1 inch thick. Trim the edges with a knife, then cut into small slices to serve. Decorate with small leaves (real or candy) attached to each piece with a clove.

So, that's medieval gingerbread! One hint: I've found rolling it out and cutting into squares a little time-consuming, so on occasions when I've been rushed, I've simply taken the mixture, when cooled slightly, and rolled it into small balls. This works nearly as well, and is easier & faster to make. Another variation is to roll out on a smooth surface that has been "floured" with a cinnamon and/or ginger & sugar mixture and cut the gingerbread into fanciful shapes with a knife or cookie cutters. Be sure to turn the spiced side up for presentation. Children also love to create their own designs with this playdough-like edible, and for a school or home project, they can be put in charge of molding the gingerbread into a variety of objects. I've seen children make snakes, animals, and even a little model airplane out of this recipe! And they always enjoy eating the final product afterwards.

The period recipe call for the gingerbread to be decorated with box leaves fastened to each piece with a clove. I usually use any attractive, small, non-poisonous leaf or a candy imitation, and either place one in each piece or just garnish the platter with several of the leaves. If you're using real leaves, please advise the diners to remove them first! Beware: on hot, sticky days the gingerbread  may become soft and gooey. But, it holds up well on cool days.


Social Studies

This site is full of information: class system, knights, castle defense, clothing styles etc. There are also some highly detailed coloring pages that would be great for a lapbook or display board. [And, a paper model of a gate house.]


Here is another excellent site for this time period .This would be good to read before starting The Whipping Boy.



This page has a picture of a knight. While your child labels the armor read Ephesians 6:10-17. Discuss the importance of our Spiritual armor.  


Writing /Art

There are many sites that show beautiful illuminations. This one explains how to read the illuminations in order to understand the written part more fully. It has a slide show and instructions for making an illuminated manuscript.

other sites


Have your child type a favorite Bible verse using the Calligrapher font then illuminate the borders. If you have a calligraphy set then teach your child a few special uppercase letters.



Personal Hygiene. Notice that in The Whipping Boy running water is not available in most places. The milk woman has the cups in a basin of water. Do you think each cup was washed in fresh water before being used by the next customer? Were the people of this time period very clean? Find out. Most sources that I checked said that ½ of all children died by the age of 15. The infant mortality rate was very high. What are some reasons for this? Where were the toilet facilities? How often did people bathe? Were hands washed before each meal? Were sick people cared for in a sterile manner? Contrast the personal hygiene of the medieval time period and the present.  Which diseases were common then? Do we the same plagues and epidemics?

Set up a schedule for daily personal hygiene.

Here are some sites. Parents should read these and then share the necessary information with the child.






Art Projects


Make a pop-up castle picture following the directions at


Make stained glass windows by adding black powdered tempra paint to white glue. Use the black glue to make the “lead” part of the windows. Fill in the picture with watercolor paints.


Sketch the Fair scene in great detail. Be sure to include Betsy, Petunia, Captain Nips and the main characters. Then add watercolor pencil to just the main characters. This looks a bit like the photo tech. that adds a spot of color to a black and white photograph. 



Just for Fun


Learn to juggle. [I can juggle scarves!!]

Use felt and other scraps to create a big rat.
Make a costume of a knight , peasant, king or queen. A pillow case makes a great tunic to start a knight, squire or page costume. Cardboard can be cut into the shape of a shield or sword.

Prepare a few recipes from the godecookery site.[see Gingerbread recipe]

Prepare something a little less elaborate: Turkey drumsticks, boiled potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding. [No plates or utensils, you’ve got to be peasants at the fair.]


Yorkshire Pudding

For 12

4 eggs

2 cups milk

dash nutmeg

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt


Sift flour. Add eggs and milk a little at a time, beating well. Add extra egg, flour if necessary. Consistency should be that of thick cream. Chill. Beat again before baking.

Heat fat; pour mixture into muffin tins. Bake in hot oven til puffed and starting to brown. Move to slow oven to dry.