”The Paper Bag Princess: The Story Behind the Story” is all about how the book came to be made: from the manuscript first being delivered to the publishing company until the book was published and became a hit. My daughter and I enjoyed learning about how children’s books get made. She now wants to become an author and write children’s books.
The first page is a letter from the publishing company, Annick Press. It talks about how they had read and seen many, many princess stories, but none like this one. So they knew that they wanted to publish it right away. The letter goes on to say that it takes a year to publish a book and the rest of this book will tell just how this book was created. Then we learn about the author of ”The Paper Bag Princess,” Robert Munsch. We read about his life and family and that he did not do so well in school, especially at spelling! He did love to read books and had decided to become a Catholic priest. That did not work out, so he started working with children at a daycare. The pictures on this page show him in all kinds of wacky poses. This is where the author began creating stories to tell the children. One day someone suggested that he write down the stories and submit them to publishing companies — and an author was born!
Then we learn about the illustrator of ”The Paper Bag Princess,” Michael Martchenko. He had always known what he wanted to do when he grew up: draw pictures! All through school he was asked for help on posters and boards. Then when he graduated, he worked for ad agencies. The next section is how the author and the illustrator met each other. Robert Munsch and Annick Press were on the lookout for an illustrator for this book and had went to the ad company where Michael worked. As they did not see anything spunky, they almost left, until one painting caught their eye. This painting was fun. And a partnership was created.
”The Paper Bag Princess” was an idea by the author’s wife as she sat listening to all of the Princes in his stories be the heroes. One day as he read to the children at the daycare, she wondered out loud why the prince always saved the day? This gave him the idea to create a princess as the hero. Also the name Elizabeth (the name of the princess in the Paper Bag Princess book) came from one of the daycare kids. The author sent this child a copy of the book and hoped she would not mind. She did not and the letter he wrote her is in the book; it says (and I LOVE this) “I wanted to have Princess Elizabeth punch Ronald in the nose at the end, but my publisher didn’t let me do that.” The real Elizabeth has her own page in this book too. She is all grown up now and has two children of her own. It is amazing, she says, that so many people still read this book today after all these years. She was only seven years old when he borrowed her name for the book.
Then we learn just how a book is made. From a writer having an idea for a book and then writing it down. Of course, then it goes through corrections and changes. This is the manuscript and does not have pictures yet. It is then sent to a publisher who suggests changes and the writer redoes it. The illustrator then creates pictures to do along with the story. A designer will put the story and pictures together so they look good. Today, this would be done with computers. The printing company will print the completed books. From there, they go to the warehouse and then to bookstores. Readers finally get a chance to read the new book.
We see a manuscript that the illustrator has written on to show where he will put each picture. Then we see his rough drafts…one problem was covering the princess after the dragon burned her clothing off of her. The rough drafts make her look like a caveman, so it was changed to just having clouds in front of her instead. And as we have already heard, the first ending has the princess hitting the prince for being so rude to her after all her trouble to rescue him.. But hitting people — even arrogant Princes who just might deserve it — isn’t appropriate. This picture (that is not included in ”The Paper Bag Princess”) is shown here; she has hit him with a tennis racket and the prince is on the ground rubbing his head, there are stars floating around him. We also learn that the original last page showed the princess ripping off the paper bag and she runs into the sunset naked.
The story is told in this book, and after the story we learn just how popular the book was and is. We read many letters from children from all over the world that the author has been sent. There were musicals and plays made about the book. There is even a book that the illustrations are made out of braille, so readers who cannot see the great illustrations can feel them. The last page is a list of books by the author and illustrator.
”The Paper Bag Princess: The Story Behind the Story” is recommended for ages six years old and up.
And here is my review of the book in question: ”The Paper Bag Princess”
What a book! I have to say that I was surprised by many things in this book. I love that the princess in this story book is the big hero and she told off the prince in the end! I really did not get the paper bag she was wearing. My daughter was furious at the prince in the story and really did not understand why I loved this book so much! She liked the story right up until the prince started saying awful things to the princess.
We start reading the story and see a beautiful princess and a bored looking prince. We find out that they are to be married soon. Well, until the dragon came to visit and ruined her castle, took away her prince, and incinerated every piece of clothing she had. The dragon is in the picture holding the prince by his shirt, the princess is shown naked except for puffs of smoke in front of her bottom section. Strangely, she has no breasts. The princess was furious and looked for something to wear so she could chase the dragon and get the prince back. The only thing she could find was a paper bag. A paper bag? Would that have not been the first thing to burn up in a fire?
So the princess makes to the dragon’s lair only to have the door slammed in her face as the dragon was full already. So Elizabeth, the princess, knocks again and asks the dragon if he is not the smartest and fiercest dragon. She goaded him into burning up some forests with his breath twice. Then Elizabeth asked if he was not the speediest dragon and goaded him into flying around the world twice. Once he got back, he was exhausted and fell asleep.
This is the part where she rescues her love, the prince. Only the prince does not want to be rescued. “Elizabeth, you are a mess! You smell like ashes, your hair is all tangled, and you are wearing a dirty paper bag. Come back when you are dressed like a real princess!” Here the picture shows the prince pointing angrily at the princess and the princess looking disheveled and dirty, not to mention mad. The princess answers back that the prince looks really nice, but he is still a bum. The story ends saying that the prince and the princess did not get married after all. The picture shows the princess running off happily into the sunset, alone.
I am sure there are lessons in this book, but the prince made me so mad that I cannot think of one. I wanted the princess to tell him fine, stay with the mean old dragon who will eat you, see if I care. I found parts of this book hilarious: the paper bag was not burned, a stuffed dragon telling the princess to come back later and he would eat her then, and the prince’s reaction to being rescued. The illustrations are in color, but some parts do seem to be shaded in with colors of black and brown. Very simple pictures with wonderful prince and princess reactions and facial expressions, which really make the story book come alive!
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