The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess
Robert Munsch and Michael Martchenko
Annick Press

I remember my excitement on discovering this feminist fairy tale in my early days of teaching and became even more excited whenever I shared and discussed it with classes. This will become a classic I thought and so it has.

Now Annick Press celebrates its 40th anniversary with a new edition for which Chelsea Clinton has written an introductory note. There’s also a piece entitled Stand Up to Dragons from writer Francesca Segal in which she says, “it was the most important book I ever read.” Wow! It definitely was one I read to and talked about with every single class of 4s to 11s.

Just in case you don’t know the story, it tells of an about to be married, princess Elizabeth, whose dream wedding is sabotaged when a dragon attacks the kingdom, smashes down her castle, burns all her fine clothes and carries off Prince Ronald.

Elizabeth dons a large paper bag and goes off in pursuit of the dragon.

Now the dragon might claim to be the smartest of his kind in the world, but the princess is even smarter. She tracks him down, persists in getting him to pay attention to what she has to say and well and truly outwits the creature. Talk about flattering to deceive.

She then proceeds to save the prince but his reaction quickly demonstrates that, despite his princely appearance he’s no prince;

as she says, “you are a real bum.” No nuptials after all!

The times of my enthusiastic sharing of the story predate the #MeToo aware world. Now, this new anniversary ‘refreshed’ edition is all the more pertinent for both girls and boys.

Emmanuelle (7) seized on my copy eagerly saying, “Oh this is such a great book,” and proceeded to read it laughing at the prince getting his come-uppance, and commenting, “Just what he deserved, to be called a bum!’ She then went on to create her own Paperbag Princess.

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