Much has been said about legendary Canadian children’s book author Robert Munsch. He topped my list of kidlit writers and I have previously posted a review on my personal favorite, Stephanie’s Ponytail. When debating his greatest work it is difficult to narrow down as the prolific creator has released a plethora of picture books crossing and blending many genres. With a magical way of writing books that are not only captivating to children but entertaining for adults, Mr. Munsch has a thick list of top quality product. Near the top of the fan favorite list is a classic fantasy interpretation that is unlike most of his other works which typically take place in a modern, real world setting.
Published over 35 years ago in 1980, The Paper Bag Princess has become a modern classic in children’s literature. Working with long time artist Michael Martchenko, the team created a fantasy story that turned princess stereotypes in a complete 180. Gaining much critical appreciation from feminist groups, including the National Organization for Women. In the books first year of production 3000 copies were sold, since then the numbers have surpassed the three million mark.
The story features a young princess by the name of Elizabeth, set to marry the handsome prince Ronald. When a dragon arrives at the castle, he kidnaps Ronald and burns down the kingdom and Elizabeth’s clothing. Forced to wear a paper bag, the princess follows the dragon back to his home. After a couple silly mishaps of mistaken identity and threats, Elizabeth challenges the dragon to prove his greatness. Tricking the beast to his maximum capabilities in flight and fire, the dragon is eventually wiped out and falls asleep. After rescuing her prince, Ronald is appalled by the state that Elizabeth is in. Offended by Ronald’s ungrateful, and pretentious attitude, Elizabeth puts the handsome prince in his place, originally calling him a ‘bum’, but in some countries the insult is changed to ‘toad’.
On the Robert Munsch website, the author speaks of the origins of many of his works. He states that in the 70’s many of his stories involved the standard prince saves princess from the dragon plots. After his wife questioned him on the stereotype, Paper Bag Princess was born. Also, he goes on to say that the controversial ‘bum’ line, also had another ending where the princess punches Ronald in the nose, but the art came out a little too violent.
The story is a fun, new, approach to classic fantasy stories that children typically hear, especially in the late 70’s early 80’s. Adding to changing the protagonist to a female, the story has the dragon defeated with zero violence, as she tricks the monster with her cleverness. Not only that, but it is the prince in this story who is portrayed as vain and conceited, while the princess has the strength, bravery, and self esteem to handle more than one ugly beast in this book. 5/5, one of my favorite books to read in the bedtime routine. I highly recommend this book for kids everywhere. Specifically, if you are like our family and raising a little girl who acts less like a princess and more of a confident little warrior.
Thanks booknerds, it’s not the clothes that make the girl.