I am a child of the 70's and 80's. By the time I became a young adult, I thought many many of the things I grew up with were gone forever- classic cartoons, favorite toys with forgotten names, and the best cereal in the world that I distinctly remember eating at my 2nd grade best friend's house the morning after one of my first sleepovers. I assumed these things no longer existed.
I also read loads of books that I thought I would never see again. I had this tiny little set of books, about as big as an iPod Nano. One of those little books was The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko. It was a book that you read as a kid, know is special, and read over and over. So, imagine my delight when I found this childhood memory at the Library Booksale.
The Paper Bag Princess is an awesome book for girls. It is about Prince Ronald who gets kidnapped by a dragon. The dragon smashes the castle and burns everything up, including the Princess, Elizabeth's, clothes. She finds a paper bag to wear and decides she is going to get Ronald back. Elizabeth follows the dragon's smoke trail to find his lair and works to outsmart the dragon.
Finally, Elizabeth exhausts the dragon and opens the cave door to save Ronald. To which she is greeted by Ronald's ungrateful disgust at the messy state of his future bride.
And here's the part that seeped in for me as a child- Elizabeth tells Ronald off. She stands up for herself and says she won't marry a bum like him.
The story is short, to the point, and packs a big punch. It is a perfect picture book in that it takes one simple story, gives it a twist, and ends with the one conflict being resolved in an empowering way. In one sentence the story delights, makes us dig deeper than the surface, and offers a new way of looking at the world. A way that I took to heart as a young girl.
Maybe some of the childhood cereals and toys are gone, but I am pretty sure the stories remain. The good ones always do.