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The Paper Bag Princess 25th Anniversary Edition: The Story Behind the Story


Celebrate 25 years of The Paper Bag Princess with an exclusive look behind the scenes.

"Some of the best children's books ever written have been about girls — like The Paper Bag Princess."
- The New York Times

In the fall of 1980, Annick Press first published Robert Munsch's tale of a dragon, a princess named Elizabeth, and the bum of a prince she rescues. Playfully illustrated by Michael Martchenko, and full ...

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Celebrate 25 years of The Paper Bag Princess with an exclusive look behind the scenes.

"Some of the best children's books ever written have been about girls — like The Paper Bag Princess."
- The New York Times

In the fall of 1980, Annick Press first published Robert Munsch's tale of a dragon, a princess named Elizabeth, and the bum of a prince she rescues. Playfully illustrated by Michael Martchenko, and full of Munsch's now-famous wit, the book was an instant success and has since sold millions of copies in dozens of languages all over the world.

To celebrate the 25th birthday of this modern classic, Annick presents the familiar story of The Paper Bag Princess in all its exuberance, along with more than 30 pages of never-before published behind-the-scenes features — all in a new bigger format.

The Paper Bag Princess 25th Anniversary Edition presents the story behind the story.

Readers will discover how Munsch — once on a path to becoming a priest — became one of the most famous children's authors of all time. They'll learn how an extra space on a gallery wall landed Martchenko his first, and most legendary, children's book gig ever. And they'll meet the real Elizabeth and see what she's up to today.

Also included are never-before published sketches and paintings that take readers through the process of the book's creation. Further sections explore the book's critical success, its international popularity, and responses from fans old and new, including some surprising ones.

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Editorial Reviews

National Post
A feminist manifesto in children's book form, and even at six, I was enchanted... kick-ass story.
BC Parent - Elizabeth Shaffer
One of the best princess stories ever told, Elizabeth turns the princess stereotype on its head, empowering young girls to be true to themselves.
Canadian Materials - Valerie Nielsen
Since its publication in 1980, the book has been reprinted 52 times, sold over three million copies and been translated into dozens of languages. This special 25th anniversary edition includes the original illustrated version of the story plus much, much more.... In both style and content, the text of the "story behind the story" part of this special anniversary edition is perfectly suited to early elementary readers. Fans of the artist will undoubtedly enjoy Martchenko's bright and cheeky drawings which enliven every page.... Educators should note that, as well as providing teachers, librarians and parents with a perfect opportunity to re-visit the well-loved story, The Paper Bag Princess: The Story Behind the Story is a wonderful enrichment resource for older students involved in book-making projects. Highly Recommended.
Canadian Children's Book Centre
Starred Selection 2006
Publishers Weekly
After a quarter century, Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess 25th Anniversary Edition: The Story Behind the Story, illus. by Michael Martchenko, also comes with the "story behind the story" of how Munsch met Martchenko and they began their partnership unfolds in a series of short chapters (e.g., "And They Lived Happily Ever After" and "Thinking Outside the Bag"). The Paper Bag Princess story itself is included. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A book for all ages, this explanation of the making of The Paper Bag Princess, including the story itself, will appeal to the very young, school-aged children and anyone who wants to know how a picture book was made way back in 1980. Brief biographies explain how Bob Munsch came to write children's books and Michael Martchenko to illustrate them. There is fun and heartwarming information, such as the fact that Munsch modeled the princess on a child, Elizabeth, in his daycare who acted like a princess, and that Martchenko created a special painting based on the book at the request of a man who wanted to propose to his girlfriend, a long time fan of The Paper Bag Princess. The Paper Bag Princess has appeared in plays, puppet shows and cartoons. It has been translated into over a dozen languages with more than three million copies sold. There are tactile and Braille editions so that the visually impaired can not only read the text but also feel the pictures. Readers can see an early draft and sketches of the book, as well as the complete, final version. This is a funny and lively edition about a book that celebrates not only The Paper Bag Princess but also the joy of creating books for children. 2005, Annick Press, Ages 4 up.
—Kathryn Erskine
Kirkus Reviews
The story of the princess Elizabeth who outsmarts a dragon and puts down a prince has stolen the hearts of many. Here, 25 years after the publication of The Paper Bag Princess, is a giddy celebration of the book's anniversary that also includes the complete original. Readers will find a basic walk-through of the publishing process then and now, plus the inside scoop on the PBP: brief biographies of author and illustrator, how they met, the identity of the "real Elizabeth" and more. It's fun to learn that in Munsch's original story, he had the princess punching the prince, but the publisher nixed it in the name of nobility-and that Martchenko's preliminary last-page sketch showed the princess naked, free of even her paper bag. The book's success is indeed celebration-worthy, with over three million copies sold in many languages including Arabic, Chinese, Flemish and Dutch ("De prinses in de papieren zak"). It's a lot of fuss over "that sooty, messy-haired, badly dressed little princess," but a loving, contagiously enthusiastic tribute nonetheless. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550379150
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/1/2005
  • Edition description: Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 25
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 121,628
  • Age range: 4 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Munsch is an internationally renowned storyteller who has written many, many, many books. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he now lives in Guelph, Ontario.

Michael Martchenko is a widely celebrated illustrator who has created many, many, many pictures for books by Robert Munsch. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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Table of Contents

Happy Birthday, Paper Bag Princess

Robert Munsch: The Story of a Storyteller

Michael Martchenko: A Portrait of the Artist

The Beginning of a Beautiful Partnership

Would the Real Elizabeth Please Stand Up?

From Paper Bag to Paperback: How Children's Books are Made

She Ought to Be in Pictures: Illustrating The Paper Bag Princess

The Paper Bag Princess: The Storybook

And They Lived Happily Ever After: A Success Story

Around the World in Just Ten Seconds: The Princess Goes Global

From the Best-Selling Book...: The Paper Bag Spinoffs

Thinking Outside the Bag: Surprise Appearances by Lizzie

Dear Mr. Munsch: Kids Respond to The Paper Bag Princess

The End?

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First Chapter

Happy Birthday, Paper Bag Princess

Have you wondered how publishing companies decide which stories they are going to publish? At Annick Press we believe in books that make you think about things in new ways. And what can be more fun than a story that is so good you want to hear it again and again? These are the qualities we loved so much in The Paper Bag Princess. From the very first time we read it.

We vividly remember the day the story arrived in the mail. We had read many princess stories, but never one that featured a spunky, quick-witted girl like Elizabeth. Following a short discussion, we had only one question: what was Robert Munsch's telephone number? We had to tell him that Annick would publish his manuscript right away!

As much as we wished we could announce the publication of The Paper Bag Princess that very week, it doesn't work that way. In fact, it takes a year or so to create a book. There are all kinds of decisions and choices that have to be made, including polishing the story so that it reads as well as it possibly can and finding an illustrator to draw the pictures. Here's the story of how that manuscript received in the mail became a book, and how that book went on to become a beloved and treasured story for millions of people.

Happy Birthday, Paper Bag Princess!

Rick Wilks and Anne W. Millyard

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