I have a TON of his books, but I would have to say that The Paper Bag Princess is my all-time, hands-down favourite. This is the ultimate "girl power" picture book.
Title: The Paper Bag Princess
Author: Robert Munsch
Illustrator: Michael Martchenko
Publisher: Annick Press Ltd., 1980
Theme / Topic: Fractured Fairytale, Self-Respect, Girls, Imagination
Intended Audience: Ages 3 to 12
Synopsis: After a dragon destroys Princess Elizabeth's castle and carries off Prince Ronald, this feisty princess decides to save her intended. She dons a paper bag dress (nothing else remains after the fire) and chases down the dragon. In true princess (and girl) style, she outwits the macho, overly-confident dragon and wins back Prince Ronald. But is Ronald grateful? NO, he isn't. All he can focus on is her paper bag dress and grubby face. In a glorious moment of awareness, Princess Elizabeth sees beyond his fancy exterior to the true self-centred, unattractive person he really is. And yes, she dumps him!
Opening: Elizabeth was a beautiful princess. She lived in a castle and had expensive princess clothes. She was going to marry a prince named Ronald. Unfortunately, a dragon smashed her castle, burned all her clothes with his fiery breath, and carried off Prince Ronald.
Why I like this book: I LOVE this book because Elizabeth is a powerful girl who finally realizes she can live happily ever after without this spineless prince at her side. I adore happy love endings in stories and novels, but it drives me crazy that all the fairy tale princesses take one look at the prince and decide to marry him on the spot ... and of course, live happily ever after. I'm always trying to challenge my students' thinking, especially the girls, when we read these kinds of endings. I do not want them brainwashed into thinking they can only be happy if they find Mr. Right. It's important for girls to stand up for their own beliefs and desires and to take matters into their own hands. (I'll get off my soapbox now ~ ha ha. Can you tell I was a teenager in the late 60s early 70s?)
1. Robert Munsch's official site where you can learn all about him and the other books he's written.
2. A YouTube video of Robert Munsch reading The Paper Bag Princess.
3. Mrs. Leslie at First Grade Frenzy has a great art/writing lesson.
4. The Crafty Crow has directions for a paper bag dress and crown.
5. DLTK shows you how to make a paper bag princess puppet. Templates are included. And there's another puppet here.
6. Deep Space Sparkle has an awesome lesson on how to draw a dragon.
7. And lastly this book lends itself to fun and animated discussions about princess stereotypes, the importance of believing in yourself, following your dreams, and being a strong person (regardless of gender :)). Even my Grade 1 students can meaningfully participate in these kinds of discussions.
Be sure to visit Susanna's blog for more fine recommendations on Perfect Picture Book Friday.