The Paper Bag Princess
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|Cover artist||Michael Martchenko|
The Paper Bag Princess is a children's book written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko. It was first published on 1 May 1980 by Annick Press. The story reverses the princess and dragon stereotype. As a result, it has won critical acclaim from feminists, including an endorsement from the National Organization for Women, which sells the book on its website.
Princess Elizabeth plans on marrying Prince Ronald, who is practically perfect. However, a dragon arrives who destroys her castle, kidnaps Ronald, and burns all her clothes, so she must look for something to wear, and her only option is a paper bag. Elizabeth follows the dragon and Ronald, and seeking to rescue her fiancé, challenges the dragon to burn forests with fire and to fly around the world. The dragon completes the tasks but after flying around the world a second time becomes tired and falls asleep. Elizabeth rescues Ronald, who is ungrateful and tells her to return when she looks more like a princess. Elizabeth calls Ronald out for his ungratefulness and goes dancing off into the sunset.
- Princess Elizabeth: A brave, smart and resilient young woman, Elizabeth's quest to save Ronald from the dragon shows her how unworthy Ronald is of her loyalty and affection.
- Prince Ronald: Ronald is revealed to be a narcissistic and selfish prince. He has picked Elizabeth for his queen, even though he does not really love her. When the dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps him, Elizabeth goes to great lengths to rescue him, but he does not appreciate the love she has shown him. Elizabeth realizes that he is shallow, conceited and mean and they part.
- Dragon: He is the typical depiction of the European dragon, with green scaly skin, an alligator belly, two small wings, and four scaly feet with eagle talons. He can breathe fire, which puts him at the very top of the animal food chain and makes him physically superior to mankind in the medieval time period in which the story is set. His flames are extremely powerful. In the plot, he attacks Princess Elizabeth's castle and kidnaps Prince Ronald. He can be quite inconsiderate, but has a good side: his intolerance of ungratefulness and ingratitude is shown in the show version when he blows fire on Ronald at the end, instead of just falling to his defeat as he does in the book.
In some editions, the book's ending has been edited slightly for global audiences with Elizabeth's insult for Ronald, "bum", being changed to "toad."
The Paper Bag Princess 25th Anniversary Edition: The Story Behind the Story (2005), a full-color hardback, reveals the inspiration behind the book. It features an interview and behind-the scenes with the author, and offers a look at the book's impact around the world.
The book was also adapted into a cartoon, as part of the animated series Bunch of Munsch.
- Zecker, Lilliana Barro; Pappas, Christine (2001). Transforming literacy curriculum genres: working with teacher researchers in urban classrooms. Hillsdale, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. p. 185. ISBN 0-8058-2401-4.
- Ball, Stephen J. (2003). RoutledgeFalmer reader in the sociology of education. New York: RoutledgeFalmer. pp. 129–30. ISBN 0-415-32776-8.
- The Paper Bag Princess, Robert Munsch Official Website
- "The Paper Bag Princess: The Story Behind the Story". www.umanitoba.ca. Retrieved 2009-12-22.