Illustration from “The Paper Bag Princess” written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Illustration from “The Paper Bag Princess” written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko

No, The Paper Bag Princess is not actually a classic fairy tale. It was written in 1980 by Robert Munsch, but it has all the familiar characters – a princess, a prince, and a dragon. And there’s a quest and an ending. And I wanted a chance to show off Amber’s painting of a paper bag. It’s only the second painting she’s done – she almost didn’t bring it home because it’s “only practice.”

Princess Elizabeth is a lovely princess who lives in a beautiful castle and plans on marrying Prince Ronald. However, a dragon arrives, destroys her kingdom, kidnaps Ronald, and burns all her clothes so that she has no choice but to wear a paper bag. Elizabeth bravely follows the dragon to rescue Ronald. She comes to the dragon’s cave an knocks. Twice he tells he to go away but then she calls out, asking him if he isn’t the smartest, fiercest dragon in the whole world. He, of course, says he is. Elizabeth challenges the dragon to burn forests with fire, which he does, first ten forests then fifty until he is out of fire. Then she asks if he can fly around the world quickly. First he does it in ten seconds then again in twenty.  When he got back from the second flight, he immediately fell into a sound sleep. Elizabeth rescues Ronald, who is ungrateful, says she smells, her hair is tangled and she’s wearing a horrible dirty bag, He tells her to return when she looks more like a princess. Elizabeth tells Ronald that even though he looks nice, he’s a jerk and she goes dancing off into the sunset. Obviously, they don’t get married.

I like the twist this takes on the typical fairy tale. It’s the princess who does the rescuing, and she uses her intelligence to do it. She may be beautiful, but that’s not the quality we admire. We admire her tenacity in following the dragon and her intelligence in figuring out how to get the better of it. We also have to admire the way she dealt with the idiot of a prince – no customary wedding for her. He’s not worthy of being her husband.

I think this one would have been a good one to read with Amber when she was little.

You can buy it on Amazon:

And Amber’s paper bag painting:


Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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