One for the young feminists today. The Paperbag Princess, defying the typical princess-meets-prince-falls-in-love-gets-married-and-lives-happily-ever-after storyline since 1992, is now available in board book format!
The Paper Bag Princess (Board book), by Robert Munsch (with art by Michael Martchenko). The first page of The Paper Bag Princess looks like a typical prince/princess story. A lovely princess in a long gown is staring adoringly at a dashing princess with a haughty face (and a tennis racquet), as hearts float around her head. From there, however, the story is anything but typical. A dragon arrives, burns up all of the princess's clothes, and steals Prince Ronald! Nothing if not resourceful, Princess Elizabeth fashions a dress out of a paper bag and sets off to save her man. She finds the dragon and outwits him through a clever exchange in which she convinces him to wear himself out so much that he falls into a deep slumber. Ronald is able to escape, but his reaction to Elizabeth isn't exactly your typical storybook expression of gratitude (see excerpt below). The book ends on this note: "Elizabeth said, 'RONALD! Your hair is nice. You look like a PRINCE. But you are a BUM.' They didn't get married after all.'" Ha! Certainly not your typical board book ending. This is an enjoyable read, and the message to girls (who needs a boy that treats you like that?) is sort of refreshing in a children's book.
"Ronald came out and said, 'ELIZABETH! You are a mess. You have no shoes! You are wearing a paper bag. Come back and rescue me when you are dressed like a REAL PRINCESS.'"
Bookworm's interest at 24 months: He sits through the whole thing and points out the dragon. I think he can follow a little bit of the exchange between the princess and the dragon, but not the relationship details between the princess and prince.
Parent's Peeve: Don't expect that your infant will understand the entirety of the book, just because it is in a board book format (the idea of marriage, for instance, is lost on my two year old). Still, I read all different age levels of books to my son and always have, and this is a fun read. The board book format makes this version safe enough for the youngest hands, and funny enough to be appreciated by older readers (including parents and grandparents). I'm definitely keeping this one in mind as a potential gift for mothers of girls (as long as they don't mind the word "bum").
Source: Review copy from publisher.
Additional information: Check out Robert Munsch's very interesting bio on Wikipedia.
We made paperbag clothes!
The one pictured here is just a plain bag (like in the book), with arm and neck holes cut up, and a v-neck cut. I also let him paint some bags that I can make into other shirts once they're dry. For older kids, you could get as detailed as you want decorating them. Just don't expect them to hold up to any serious play.
Do you have any books you consider "feminist" or that have particularly favorable/strong depictions of female characters in them? One other that I labeled a "feminist" children's story is the Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes (review here).
Do you have any other favorite paper bag crafts?
We decorated small 0nes for goodie bags at the Infant Bibliophile's second birthday party (he just painted and markered them to his heart's content, and then we stickered the kids' names on them with scrabble-style stickers, for a games-themed party). We've made paper bag puppets too of course. I also love this idea from Frugal Family Fun for holiday gift bags.