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  • Kraig Brachman

Why you and your child should read The Paper Bag Princess


The Paper Bag Princess cover

Written in 1980, and catapulting author Robert Munsch to new heights, The Paper Bag Princess is the story of Princess Elizabeth rescuing her kidnapped fiancé, Prince Ronald by a fire-breathing dragon. Donning a paper bag, the only thing not burnt by the dragon, she sets off to rescue the Prince, but upon doing so, he isn't impressed with her new look. Elizabeth rightfully rebukes the prince's shallow and ungrateful attitude, and sets off on her own.




I love The Paper Bag Princess, and here's why you and your child should read The Paper Bag Princess:


Illustrator Michael Martchenko's watercolours are warm and inviting, while cartoony in typical Robert Munsch style.


The story takes the traditional “prince saves princess” story and turns it on its head. Princess Elizabeth -- instead of sitting around waiting to be rescued like in traditional versions of fairytales like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or Rapunzel -- is resourceful, determined, clever, and brave. She uses her strengths to rescue the ungrateful Prince.


Not only that it address things like self-worth, substance over wealth and status, and how well established story telling structures like a dragon capturing royalty can be updated, modified, and remain relevant.


Reading The Paper Bag Princess as a child, I enjoyed the humour, the excitement, and I could tell the difference in story between the traditional version of the damsel in distress story and Munsch's changes — which I appreciated. Prince Ronald was so ungrateful, seeing Princess Elizabeth stand up for herself was so very earned.




If you are interested in revisiting, or want to check out The Paper Bag Princess for the first time, you can borrow a copy from the Calgary Public Library!

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