Princess Elizabeth is excited to marry dreamy Prince Ronald, but then a dragon attacks the castle, kidnaps her prince, and burns all her clothes. In resourceful and humorous fashion, Elizabeth dons a paper bag, finds and outsmarts the dragon, and rescues Ronald—who is less than pleased at her unprincesslike appearance. What’s a modern-day princess to do? Read this delightful tale to find out.
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Compare Elizabeth to other unconventional princesses, for example Fiona in Shrek or Elsa from Frozen.
- Compare Elizabeth to a more traditional princess. How is she different?
- Read some other alternative traditional tales such a The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury or Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl.
- Clothing is really important in this book. What does clothing tell us about characters?
- Compare to other stories where the hero outsmarts the villain, for example Jack and the Beanstalk or the Three Little Pigs.
- Write dialogue between Elizabeth and Ronald before the story starts. What do you think they would say to each other?
- Compare this dragon with other dragons in books, for example Zog by Julia Donaldson or Toothless in How to Train your Dragon by Cressida Cowell.
- Make a map of the story.
- Retell the story from the dragon’s point of view.
- Write a newspaper report on attack of the castle.
- Write character sketches of Elizabeth, Ronald and the Dragon.
- Expand the adjectives used (for example beautiful, expensive) into noun phrases.
- Munsch only uses a few verbs to show how something was said (e.g. said, shouted and whispered). Make a list of other verbs you could use to show how something was said.
- Act out the story and write it up as a play.
- How would the story have been different if Elizabeth hadn’t gone after Ronald or if Ronald had been a nicer person?
- Listen to the author read the story. How does he make the story come alive? Record your own reading of the story.
- Interview Elizabeth and Ronald. What are their perspectives on what happened?
- What does Elizabeth do next? Ronald? The dragon? Write the next part of one of their stories.
- On his website, Robert Munsch says “The Paper Bag Princess was first told at the Bay Area Child Care Center in Coos Bay Oregon where I had a job in 1973 and 1974. I had been telling lots and lots of dragon stories. They were all fairly regular dragon stories where the prince saves the princess from the dragon. One day my wife, who also worked at the daycare centre, came to me and said “How come you always have the prince save the princess? Why can’t the princess save the prince?” What other traditional stories could you change?
- Think of as many uses of a paper bag as you can.
- What would be the drawbacks of wearing a paper bag?
- Design some clothes made from an unconventional material.
- Look at a range of images of dragons in art and mythology, for example Japanese dragons, the Welsh dragon, St George and the Dragon by Kandinsky.
- Paint your own dragon.
- Make puppets of Elizabeth and Ronald from paper bags.
- Write a song about the story.
- Make a map showing the castle, Elizabeth’s route to dragon’s cave etc.
- Set out a trail in your outside area from the castle to the dragon’s cave.
- Research the history of castles. How are they built? How have they changed over the years?
- Discuss the gender roles in the story. Why does Ronald react in that way at the end of the story?
- Look at the first picture. How does Ronald feel about Elizabeth? How does she feel about him?
- The dragon boasts about how fast he can fly. Have you ever boasted about anything? How did it make you feel? How do you feel when other people boast?