Title: The Paper Bag Princess
Author: Robert Munsch
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st December 2020
Synopsis: 40 years. Seven million copies sold. One princess who has inspired generations of readers.
- · An empowerment-focused edition of one of the world’s best-loved picture books.
- · Readers the world-over have fallen in love with this classic story of girl power.
When the fiercest dragon in the whole world smashes Princess Elizabeth’s castle, burns all her clothes, and captures her fiancé, Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands. With her wits alone and nothing but a paper bag to wear, the princess challenges the dragon to show his strength in the hopes of saving the prince. But is it worth all that trouble?
By bravely outwitting the dragon and ultimately deciding that she doesn’t need a prince after all, Elizabeth modelled something revolutionary for young readers and adults alike.
For those of us growing up from 1980 onwards, The Paper Bag Princess was part of our lives, and for many of us, the first princess story where she didn’t necessarily end up with the prince, and where the princess saves the day. Whether it was read to us at home, at school or in day care or preschool, it is one of those classic books that is timeless.
The story of Elizabeth, destined to marry Prince Ronald, is a feminist tale. When her castle is burned down by a dragon, her clothes destroyed and her fiancé carried off, Elizabeth dons a paper bag – the only item she can find to wear – and follows the trail of the dragon to challenge him – but Elizabeth will soon find out that standing up for herself, and forging her own destiny is much more important than marrying a prince!
This classic picture book has charmed generations of readers, and inspired young girls to be themselves and not adhere to what society expects of them. It shows all readers that it is possible to be yourself, regardless of who you are and that clothes don’t define you – it is your wits and talents, and the kind of person you are that proves what you are capable of.
This is one of those stories that will live on forever, and that will always be relevant to all readers, regardless of age and gender. It has the power to evoke a sense of who we want to be and what we are capable of.
Elizabeth’s story tells us to tap into our own powers and talents, just as she does when it comes to defeating the dragon and saving Prince Roland.
It may have been a very long time since I first heard this story, but in some way, I feel like it has always been there in the back of my mind. There was a familiarity about it, and perhaps it was read to me back in pre-school, but reading it again as an adult, it has as much meaning now as it did then. It is the kind of book all ages can share, and harkens from a time when not every picture book rhymed (nothing wrong with that, I love those books), but being able to harken back to my own childhood is something beautiful through books like this.