Tag Archives: pretty boy

Day 163 – The Paper Bag Princess

In honor of Robert Munsch’s birthday, today we read our very favorite Munsch picture book: “The Paper Bag Princess” – a delightful and irreverent fairy tale that takes the old damsel-in-distress narrative and flips it right on its head.

The story begins with a beautiful princess, Elizabeth, who lives in a castle and is madly in love with the dashing(?) and aloof Prince Ronald. She is supposed to marry Prince Ronald, but one day a dragon suddenly swoops in, burns the castle and all of Elizabeth’s clothes, and absconds with her fiancee. Determined to retrieve Ronald, Elizabeth pursues the dragon wearing a dress made of the only item in the castle not burned to a crisp: a paper bag. When she finally arrives at the dragon’s lair, Elizabeth plays on the dragon’s weakness – his excessive pride – by cajoling him into ever more impressive displays of power, speed and destruction until he is so exhausted that he doesn’t even respond when she walks up and yells in his ear. Walking triumphantly past the defeated dragon, Elizabeth opens the door to the lair only to be scolded by an ungrateful Prince Ronald: “Elizabeth, you are a mess!” he announces, before she can even speak. “You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled, and you are wearing a dirty paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess.” “Ronald,” she replies, “your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum.” Spoiler alert: they don’t get married after all.paper bag

We absolutely adore this book (our oldest gives it three “loves”…as in “I love, love, love this book!). It has been a favorite in our house for a long time. I am particularly fond of the abrupt and unceremonious way in which Elizabeth cuts bait at the end of the story, although the clever way in which Elizabeth thinks to defeat the dragon is a nice bonus. Michael Martchenko’s expressive and colorful illustrations add to the humor of this very satisfying picture book – a perfect complement to the amusing narrative.

The story conveys what I think is a very important message: it is who you are on the inside and not what you look like on the outside that matters, and if somebody can’t appreciate you for who you are inside, then they are not worth your time…especially if they are self-absorbed, ungrateful pretty boys (that’s what I got out of it, at least).