Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Paper Bag Princess ~ by Robert N. Munsch, 1980

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch (1980) is another princess book, recommended by Helen of Helen's Book Blog when I wrote about Princess Smartypants on Sunday.  Claire of The Captive Reader added, "You can never go wrong with Munsch!"  My friend Donna reminded me, "Munsch is the one who wrote Love You Forever" (published in 1986).  I'd forgotten that.  I got the book from the library and read it on Monday.  Here's the summary:
Princess Elizabeth is to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps Ronald. In resourceful and humorous fashion, Elizabeth finds the dragon and rescues Ronald -- who is less than pleased at her un-princess-like appearance.
Prince Ronald looks snobbishly conceited on the very first page. When "a dragon smashed her castle, burned all her clothes with his fiery breath, and carried off Prince Ronald," the prince is shown being carried away on the dragon's talon, upside down, peering at the reader between his dangling legs -- certainly not a time to be conceited. The princess is shown naked, her clothes burned away, though puffy clouds discreetly cover certain parts of her. Finding nothing unconsumed by the dragon's fiery breath, Princess Elizabeth dresses in a paper bag and sets out.

Here's one of my favorite illustrations from the middle of the book.  Princess Elizabeth confronts the dragon, who burns up whole forests with his fiery breath.  The brave little princess flinches, but she doesn't run away.  Ronna of Renegade Conversations shared another illustration, showing the defeated dragon and Prince Ronald behind a barred window.

Once again, I intend to post a "spoiler," hoping you adults don't mind.  Princess Elizabeth tricks the dragon and rescues Prince Ronald.  His thanks?
"Elizabeth, you are a mess!  You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled and you are wearing a dirty old paper bag.  Come back when you are dressed like a real princess."

"Ronald," said Elizabeth, "your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat.  You look like a real prince, but you are a bum."

They didn't get married after all.
The final page shows her dancing off into the sunset, which is almost the color of the dragon's fiery breath (compare this to her silhouette on the Classic Munsch seal on the cover, above).  Rated:  9 of 10, an excellent book for smart little princesses.


Helen's Book Blog said...

Oh I just love this book. It made me so sad the first few times I read it to my daughter and her response was, "Read it again, but make them get married in the end like it's supposed to be." There goes that lesson. After a while she was just fine with the princess being in charge and on her own :-) And, one of our favorite lines is the one you quoted about Ronald being a bum.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I could imagine children calling Prince Ronald a bum. I considered some of the words Munsch might have used and decided "bum" isn't half bad.
: )

raidergirl3 said...

This is my absolute favorite Munsch book.

It might have something to do with my name (Elizabeth) and my husband (Ron):)Our kids like to read that one and very much enjoy the 'you bum' line.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Elizabeth (raidergirl3), I love it! I imagine your Ron isn't as snobbish as the one Princess Elizabeth chose not to marry.

Beth said...

What a great story, Bonnie! Like Raidergirl3, I particularly like it since my name is Elizabeth. Princess Elizabeth is now my hero! :-)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I went back and added one of my favorite illustrations. It's from the middle of the book, when Princess Elizabeth has confronted the dragon, who burns up whole forests with his fiery breath. The brave little princess flinches, but she doesn't run away.