Picture Books

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, Illustrated by Michael Martchenko | Book Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. I borrowed it from the library and some wild child had scribbled all over one of the pages! Cover art is copyright of Scholastic.

Elizabeth is a princess, betrothed to a prince named Ronald. Ronald looks like he could be Elizabeth’s twin. This is some Game of Thrones content if you ask me.

Then one day, a dragon kills her entire kingdom, and carries off Ronald for a later snack. Elizabeth follows in hot pursuit, with nothing to wear but a paper bag. Did they have paper bags back then? Apparently.

Using her wits, Elizabeth does her best to outsmart the dragon. She panders to his ego and encourages him to desolate even more of the land. All for the sake of snooty little Ronald. Meanwhile, her kingdom is turning to ash. Yes, Elizabeth’s methods are questionable, but she still manages to accomplish her goal. Which was also questionable. Thankfully, she learns to sort out her priorities.

This book is all about valuing cunning over style. It does not follow the pretty princess tropes of many picture books. However, I was put out that the book was censored. I read the 25th anniversary edition, where they changed the word “bum” to “toad.” This is most offensive to toads!

‘The Paper Bag Princess’ is best enjoyed on audio, read by Robert Munsch himself. Munsch’s talent for oral storytelling is without peer. He adds repetition, onomatopoeia, and other sound effects, injecting more humour and attitude into the narrative. A must-listen!

3.8 out of 5 stars


Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill | Comic Review

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Cover art is copyright of Katie O’Neill and Oni Press.

No prince has succeeded in rescuing Princess Sadie from her tower prison – but Princess Amria is no prince! Together, the two princesses will save one other and each find their place in the world.

The two princesses are endearing from the start. Amira is optimistic and determined. Sadie is outspoken and emotional. Seriously. That girl could drown a small village with her tears. It’s practically a superpower.

Amira’s rescuing methods are a little questionable. She could have maimed or killed Sadie on multiple occasions, but her perseverance is admirable. Sadie has that inexplicable sheltered blonde girl ability to solve problems with compassion. If anyone else tried this, they’d probably get themselves squished or smote.

Sadie and Amira also meet Prince Vladric. After decrying being helped by women, he then proceeds to tell them how easy they have it and how much baggage comes with the expectations of manly princeliness. Boo-hoo. I think Vladric could have been a more sympathetic character if there had been enough time in the story for more character development. Alas, he shall forever be Butthead.

‘Princess Princess Ever After’ touches on real insecurities. Amira is feeling lost, unsure of where she belongs. Sadie, belittled and degraded, bears a scar of self-doubt. Vladric…well, we covered him. The comic features a diverse cast of characters and an unspoken romantic thread between Amira and Sadie. This might have been argued as ambiguous (by the tragic and desperate) but the epilogue – which was not featured in the original web comic – makes it undeniable.

This is a short but enjoyable story for young readers (and old-er people too) from New Zealand writer and illustrator, Katie O’Neill. I look forward to reading more of her work.

3 out of 5 stars