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REVIEW: The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

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“In this bestselling modern classic, Princess Elizabeth is slated to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps Ronald. In resourceful and humorous fashion, Elizabeth finds the dragon, outsmarts him, and rescues Ronald—who is less than pleased at her un-princess-like appearance.”

Dear Mr. Munsch,

I love children’s books, always have, and I’ve got a pretty good sized collection at home. What attracts me so much is a really good one is not just the text but also the illustrations.When I find a good one, the combo can be magical. I’m always looking to add more and was delighted when I found “The Paper Bag Princess” being offered by Open Road Media at Netgalley.

What drew me in to try it is the promise in the blurb that Elizabeth is smart, thoughtful and a go-getter. This is what I want the young girls who listen – am psyched that the ebook contains narration – and read the book to take away from it. A story like this conveys the idea that it’s great to be smart and to use those smarts. Being a Princess is fine but using your brain is even better. Having a man in your life can be wonderful but hold out for one who recognizes the best in you and can appreciate a woman who just might be smarter than he is.

It’s easy to see why this book is so popular. And why it has inspired a ton women to post pictures on the internet of themselves in homemade “Paper Bag Princess” costumes. It’s short, sweet and to the point in empowering young women. It’s also funny and has great illustrations. I’m glad I finally found it. B

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

27 Comments

  1. carmen webster buxton
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 12:12:40

    I loved that book! I consider it the anti-Cinderella. Not that I object to a real Prince Charming, but a girl needs to know what she’s getting.

  2. Jayne
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 12:48:00

    @carmen webster buxton: Yes! And she would have gotten a loser in Prince Ronald.

  3. Ellen
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 14:02:24

    Love Munsch. He knows how to make a point without ramming it down your throat, or your child’s throat.
    “Stephanie’s Ponytail” has made a lasting impression in my household. I won’t spoil the story, but if my daughter is feeling peer pressure or she thinks we are pressuring her to do something/join something we feel is beneficial but it is not her, she will say “But it’s my ponytail and I like it” and we back away (sometimes not graciously). But the point is made. Even though she is 13, I will find this book. Time to build on the foundations previously set about Prince Charming.

  4. Annemarie
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 14:14:35

    Oh you must must must listen (for free!) to Munsch read this himself. Kids go absolutely nuts when he does school visits.

    http://robertmunsch.com/book/the-paper-bag-princess

  5. Jayne
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 14:59:38

    @Annemarie: Squeeee! Oh, that was fabulous. I was going absolutely nuts while I listened to it too. Thanks.

  6. Jayne
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 15:08:49

    @Ellen: I just listened to this one too -Annemarie I can tell I’m going to be spending a lot of time at this site – and can see why “Stephanie’s Ponytail” would be great to help deal with peer pressure.

  7. brandy
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 15:21:17

    The bookstore I worked at a bajillion years ago had Munsch in for a signing event. Many local schools shipped in busloads of kids, and watching him tell them his stories was one of the most memorable experiences of my life! Paper Bag Princess is my favorite. <3

  8. hapax
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 16:37:18

    Munsch is so hit and miss with me. I loved THE PAPER BAG PRINCESS, as did my daughter, and his SOMETHING GOOD is the source of so many family catchphrases.

    Otoh, we all find his mega-popular LOVE YOU FOREVER to be the creepiest thing imaginable.

  9. Annemarie
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 16:50:08

    @Jayne: My absolute favourite is “A Promise is a Promise.” Such a creepy little story.

    Are you familiar with Sheree Fitch? Very Seussical. She’s known for fun children’s poetry, but has a few young adult and adult books out now that have been well received.

  10. Annemarie
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 16:53:54

    @hapax: The interesting thing about “Love You Forever” is that it’s origins are a little unsettling: Munsch wrote the book as a comfort after he and his wife suffered multiple miscarriages. I caught a biographical show about him once in which to told the story, and then began to recite ILYF. I haven’t been able to go near the book since, it’s left such a sad impression.

  11. Dabney
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 16:56:31

    My favorite book in the updated fairy-tale cannon that empowers young women–whew!–is Diane Stanley’s Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter. http://www.amazon.com/Rumpelstiltskins-Daughter-Diane-Stanley/dp/0064410951/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344981228&sr=1-9

    Not only do the illustrations kick butt–Stanley has won many awards in the kid lit arena–the story is witty, charming and truly romantic without pandering to “Cinderella” standards. I can’t recommend it enough!

  12. Ann Bruce
    Aug 14, 2012 @ 23:51:13

    I absolutely adore this book and its message. It’s an awesome tale about female empowerment, right up there with any Joss Whedon work. It’s my second favorite after Judy Blume’s Superfudge. And I just realized I don’t have a copy on my bookshelf. I have to rectify that.

    Also, I’ve been racking my brain for a gift for a six-year-old I’m going to see this weekend, and I think this book would be perfect for her.

    And it is just me, or does anyone ever feel sorry for the dragon? Then again, I always feel sorry for dragons because they’re so typecasted.

  13. Kira Brady
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 00:15:25

    I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Yes, I’m shouting. I buy it for all my friends with kids. My two-year-old can recite it. I’ve crafted a complete ceramic tea set based on characters from the book. This and Miss Rumphius are my top two favorite children’s books.

  14. Jayne
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 06:35:05

    @Dabney: @Ann Bruce: @Kira Brady: This is wonderful! I’m getting all kinds of great recommendations. Thanks, ladies.

  15. Jayne
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 06:51:10

    @Ann Bruce: It’s been a while since I’ve read it but I recall the dragons in Patricia Wrede’s “Dealing with Dragons” as escaping typecasting. One in particular enjoys cherries jubilee.

  16. Katie
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 07:05:50

    I adore this book. His book “Love You Forever” is a classic. I have a hard time reading it without crying.

  17. Maya M.
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 10:30:08

    Rant alert: I despise Sleeping Beauty. I’m not thrilled about Snow White or Cinderella either (former just gets up on the horse of the first random guy who happens to come along, latter allows herself to be exploited endlessly, but at least they have redeeming features of cleanliness/non-prejudice toward little people and cleanliness/kindness to little creatures, respectively) but it’s Aurora who raises my blood pressure. Throughout her entire movie, she doesn’t do ANYTHING except become comatose. The single, solitary task she is given, to pick some berries, she abandons as soon as (again!) the first random guy shows up. Yes, I understand that these movies are classics, created in a different time, but that doesn’t change the fact that my daughter looks at them starry-eyed as role models.

    That is why I adore Elizabeth. When disaster strikes she doesn’t sit around uselessly moaning, waiting for someone else to fix the situation. She analyzes what needs to be done, does it, and when she realizes that her prince cares more about surface than substance, she doesn’t hesitate to call him on it. Bravo, and A+

  18. Dabney
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 10:50:24

    @Jayne: Diane Stanley’s Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter is my favorite picture book feminist retelling of a classic fairy tale. There are so many great YA choices–my daughter’s bookshelves are lined with them! I couldn’t pick a favorite but I love Shannon Hale’s The Goose Girl, East by Edith Pattou (a retelling of “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”), and pretty much anything by Robin McKinley.

  19. Ann Bruce
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 19:25:40

    @Jayne: OMG. I just read the blurb and I’m getting this book. I would so run away to live with dragons.

  20. Ann Bruce
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 19:31:55

    @Maya M.: You’re not alone. When I watch Sleeping Beauty, I sympathize with Maleficent because those three good fairies are annoying as all get out. I’m amazed they survived into old age. And I find the relationship between Phillip and his horse Samson much more enjoyable than the one between Phillip and Aurora.

  21. Nicole
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 08:50:01

    Oh, I love Paper Bag Princess. Just picked it up a few weeks ago for my daughter.

    Also, if anyone is looking for more good books for girls, http://www.amightygirl.com/ is awesome.

  22. Jayne
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 10:25:53

    @Nicole: That looks like an amazing site and I plan to poke around it a lot.

  23. Jennifer Armintrout
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 10:27:10

    Ronald is a bum! You have no idea how psyched I was to see this reviewed here. :D

  24. Joopdeloop
    Aug 16, 2012 @ 15:19:04

    Chiming in on the love for Paper Bag Princess and Rumpledtiltskin’s Daughter… And offering up Joan Aiken’s collection of shorts, Shadows and Moonshine… My recollection is she’s pretty equal opportunity about her treatment of dragons, princesses and other fairy tale denizens. Loved the one about the pigs, and the princess who cooks. More of this stuff to read to / with my girls please.

  25. riga
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 06:08:13

    I bought this book for my niece many, many years ago (she’s in college now – still have no idea how that is possible, since she was only five, like, YESTERDAY,) and it’s the only book I stole from her when she had grown out of children’s books.

    I will be happy to buy the two of us a second copy, should she realize she needs it back in her life. Until then, it’s MINE.

  26. Jayne
    Aug 18, 2012 @ 07:08:48

    @Joopdeloop: I plan on doing some more children’s stuff in the future. In the meantime, you can scroll up to the tags listed at the end of this review and click on children’s books, stories, fiction and hopefully pull up the other reviews already here.

  27. Maya M.
    Aug 20, 2012 @ 14:14:18

    @Ann Bruce: “…I find the relationship between Phillip and his horse Samson much more enjoyable than the one between Phillip and Aurora” HAHAHA! You are so right!

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