My daughter and I love The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. I think though that we love it for different reasons. She likes it because Princess Elizabeth calls Prince Ronald a bum. I like it because it’s not your typical fairy tale. You know the one where the prince rescues the maiden and they live happily ever after, which we all know doesn’t really happen. Elizabeth in the The Paper Bag Princess is one awesome, self-assured, smart girl and I like that kind of role model for my daughter.

Elizabeth is a beautiful princess with all clothes, jewels and life-style of a princess. She is engaged to a real prince named Ronald. Her perfect life is ruined when the dragon comes and destroys the castle and burns pretty much every thing including her dress and takes Ronald with him. A paper bag survives the dragon attack (yeah I know dragons breathe fire and a paper bag survives?!?). Princess Elizabeth puts on the paper bag as a dress and then goes on to rescue Prince Ronald from the Dragon.

She uses her wits to outsmart the dragon. When she finally gets to Prince Ronald he tells her she isn’t dressed like a real princess, not to mention she stinks. Apparently he is a little disgusted with her and then to add insult to injury he tells her to go away and come back when she looks and smells better.

She tells him he is a bum, (my daughter thinks it’s hilarious) and goes off to make her way in the world leaving Prince Ronald with the Dragon. I love how Elizabeth doesn’t change herself to fit Ronald’s demands and realizes she can live without him. I gave this to my daughter for Valentine’s Day. I did have to laugh though when I realized the irony of giving my daughter a love story for Valentine’s Day where the princess decides not to marry the prince, although I am sure Princess Elizabeth’s happily ever after is much better without Prince Ronald.

I also checked out Robert Munsch’s website and he is hilarious. Rarely have I read an author’s website that left me rolling on the floor, actually it never has happened, but with Robert Munsch, I kept laughing and laughing.

I’m a huge fan of traditional fairy tales, but I do have some concerns especially about the damsel in distress, rescued by a prince, who then despite hardly knowing each other then marry happily every after!?! Most love stories like that don’t last. I have issues with the whole love at first sight. So here’s my question how do we balance reading fairy tales with teaching our children about healthy love and relationships?

This book is part of my reading for Women’s History Month.