How I wish I’d had this book to read when I was growing up! Although Robert Munsch’s book The Paper Bag Princess was published in 1980, I didn’t discover it until 2003. When my daughter was born, my thesis advisor gave her The Paper Bag Princess as a gift. The book had become a tradition for my advisor, her go-to gift for baby showers and birthdays. Once I read it, I was a lifelong fan, and I've shared it with my daughter countless times over the years. Buying the book for baby showers and birthdays became a tradition for me as well.
The story is straightforward. Princess Elizabeth has a bad day. A dragon destroys her castle, burns all her clothes, and kidnaps her fiancé, Prince Ronald. What’s a girl to do? This strong, resourceful princess dons a paper bag, tracks down the dragon, outsmarts him, and rescues Prince Ronald. Who then disses her appearance because it doesn’t meet his standards of how a princess should look. What happens next will have little girls (and women of all ages) cheering.
According to Munsch, his wife was responsible for this book. In the 1970s, they both worked at a daycare center, where he told the children stories about princesses and dragons. Princes always came to the rescue. Exasperated one day, his wife asked, “Why can’t the princess save the prince?” And Elizabeth, the Paper Bag Princess, was born.
Although strong female protagonists for little girls are not quite so rare anymore—even Disney has wised up in recent years with Brave and Frozen—this hardy pioneer helped to show the way. Brava, Princess Elizabeth! Long may you reign.