The Paper Bag Princess

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
The Paper Bag Princess Book Poster Image
Spirited princess saves self in girl-power classic.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A good choice for a read-aloud. Challenges readers to think about what it means to be brave and how they treat people they like or love.

Positive Messages

Be resourceful; be strong; girls can be heroes, especially if they use their brains; don't wait for a guy to come along and save you; expect people to respect you for who you really are, not for how you look or the clothes you wear; looking like a prince doesn't make you one. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Princess Elizabeth isn't afraid to chase down the fire-breathing, prince-snatching dragon. She uses her wits to defeat him. She believes in her own self-worth and stands up to the prince. She feels just as much a princess in her paper bag as she does in her gown and jewels. 

Violence & Scariness

Violence isn't graphic, but the dragon does breathe fire, burns down forests, and leaves a trail of horse bones; very appropriate to a fairy tale but may be upsetting to younger kids. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Robert Munsch originally wrote The Paper Bag Princess in 1980, before today's princess mania, and it's among the first feminist princess books on the market. Against today's standards, the adventures and lessons may seem simplistic, but the story is cute, the princess lovable, and the lesson modern and true. And the twist at the end makes it even better. The book has gone through more than 74 printings, the language is less poetic in some versions, and small details, such as the color of the princess's dress changing from pink to white and gold, varies in some editions. However, Frozen fanatics will find truth in its endearing -- and enduring -- message. Though the fire-breathing dragon and his destructive ways may upset the youngest set, most readers will want to find a place on the bookshelf for this classic. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of an infant, 1, 4, 11, and 18+-year-old Written byAdrianna R. August 12, 2016

Paper Bag Princess

Wonderful story. Before the Disney Princess Mania started and made our young girls think that princesses just get what they want all the time. (e.g Cinderella g... Continue reading

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What's the story?

When a dragon attacks, the beautiful Princess Elizabeth loses everything: her castle, her clothes, and her fiancé, the handsome Prince Ronald, whom she was to marry. But she doesn't take her losses lying down. Clad only in a paper bag, she goes in search of the dragon ... and Ronald. Using only her wits, she outsmarts the beast, finds the prince, and learns an important lesson about the importance of believing in yourself and expecting respect from those who love you.  

Is it any good?

THE PAPER BAG PRINCESS is the stuff that fairy tales are made of -- a true classic about what being a hero, challenging dragons, and finding true love is all about. It's funny and short and makes a great point. The story's fun to read aloud but may challenge early readers, and the artwork is bright and humorously expressive and will entertain readers of all ages.

Author Robert Munch tells a simple but important and engaging story that ends with a wry twist. Popular before the current princess mania took root, it's a great girl-power fairy tale and still one of the best feminist princess stories on the shelf. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the princess uses her skills to defeat the dragon. Why do you think the dragon falls for her tricks? What are some of the other ways people, especially girls, have become heroes? What special skills of yours would you have used? 

  • How does the princess change from beginning to end? How does the artist show her changing? How about the dragon and the prince? 

  • How does Princess Elizabeth compare with princesses in other books you've read or movies you've seen, perhaps Cinderella, Frozen, Rapunzel, or Sleeping Beauty? What do you like or dislike about each of them, and how did they solve the problem they faced? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and princesses

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