The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko

thepaperbagsprincessbyrobertmunschMy daughter and I love The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. I think though that we love it for different reasons. She likes it because Princess Elizabeth calls Prince Ronald a bum. I like it because it’s not your typical fairy tale. You know the one where the prince rescues the maiden and they live happily ever after, which we all know doesn’t really happen. Elizabeth in the The Paper Bag Princess is one awesome, self-assured, smart girl and I like that kind of role model for my daughter.

Elizabeth is a beautiful princess with all clothes, jewels and life-style of a princess. She is engaged to a real prince named Ronald. Her perfect life is ruined when the dragon comes and destroys the castle and burns pretty much every thing including her dress and takes Ronald with him. A paper bag survives the dragon attack (yeah I know dragons breathe fire and a paper bag survives?!?). Princess Elizabeth puts on the paper bag as a dress and then goes on to rescue Prince Ronald from the Dragon.

She uses her wits to outsmart the dragon. When she finally gets to Prince Ronald he tells her she isn’t dressed like a real princess, not to mention she stinks. Apparently he is a little disgusted with her and then to add insult to injury he tells her to go away and come back when she looks and smells better.

She tells him he is a bum, (my daughter thinks it’s hilarious) and goes off to make her way in the world leaving Prince Ronald with the Dragon. I love how Elizabeth doesn’t change herself to fit Ronald’s demands and realizes she can live without him. I gave this to my daughter for Valentine’s Day. I did have to laugh though when I realized the irony of giving my daughter a love story for Valentine’s Day where the princess decides not to marry the prince, although I am sure Princess Elizabeth’s happily ever after is much better without Prince Ronald.

I also checked out Robert Munsch’s website and he is hilarious. Rarely have I read an author’s website that left me rolling on the floor, actually it never has happened, but with Robert Munsch, I kept laughing and laughing.

I’m a huge fan of traditional fairy tales, but I do have some concerns especially about the damsel in distress, rescued by a prince, who then despite hardly knowing each other then marry happily every after!?! Most love stories like that don’t last. I have issues with the whole love at first sight. So here’s my question how do we balance reading fairy tales with teaching our children about healthy love and relationships?

This book is part of my reading for Women’s History Month.

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14 thoughts on “The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko

  1. I’m right there with you. The whole damsel-in-distress thing just never worked for me.
    And between those kinds of fairy tales and society today…. sigh.

    Yeah, I got nothing. I’m hoping to figure it out before Boo hits her teens.

  2. I love this book, but I don’t have any answers either. I think we just have to keep giving our kids good experiences in real life so their perceptions of the world aren’t just from books, tv, and movies. I think we also have to know our kids. I think some kids are prone to believe everything they see and read while others just seem to know that it’s not real and life isn’t like that.

  3. Britt – With the whole damsel in distress thing – I think that’s why I like Rapunzel’s Revenge so much because she doesn’t fit the stereotype.

    lynn – Thanks, yeah I think it’s a great Valentine’s gift, my next daughter will get her own copy when she is older.

    Kim – Kim I think you are right on. “Keep giving out kids good experiences in real life”. Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Hah! I so loved the whole princess thing when I was little. I remember when Lady Di and Prince Charles married – sigh. Okay, so he wasn’t handsome, but charming right? Hmm, the whole princess/prince thing was ruined by those two.

    I like that more and more authors are moving away from the damsel can’t help herself plot.

    A friend of mine loves this story so much she dressed up as the Paperbag Princess for Halloween one year. It worked really well!

  5. I liked this book a lot too. My boys weren’t quite so interested. What boy wants to read about a prince that’s a ‘bum’? Mine all want to be real heroes, not lame ones.

  6. Heehee–I loved hearing about the reasons you and your daughter like Paper Bag Princess. Personally, I like the clever way the princess tricks the dragon! Have you seen those feminist fairy tale collections? I think the best ones are Tatterhood and Other Tales plus The Maid of the North, ed. Ethel Johnston Phelps; Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Beloved Sisters, ed. Kathleen Ragan; and Not One Damsel in Distress, ed. Jane Yolen. Oh, and there’s another funny picture book along these lines, Cinder Edna!

  7. Sharon – Yeah the whole Princess Di & Prince Charles ruined that for me. And I love the idea of dressing as the Paper Bag Princess for Halloween. I think I just found my costume for this year.

    holly – I’m sure your boys are going to be great guys, but I can understand them not wanting to read a book about a guy who is a bum.

    Framed – I’ll have to checked out Love You Forever

    Kate Coombs – Yeah I like how Princess Elizabeth tricks the dragon. Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m always on the look out for books like this.

  8. I love this book and am glad you reminded me of it. I can just picture your daughter laughing when Elizabeth calls Prince Ronald a bum. 🙂

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