June 8, 2023

Robert Munsch’s classic The Paper Bag Princess has been optioned to become a film | CBC Books

The Paper Bag Princess, written by the beloved children’s literature legend Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, has been optioned as a live-action film by Universal Pictures. 

The adaptation was first announced in 2017 and is now official after four years of negotiation. The film will be produced by Elizabeth Banks and Margot Robbie, and directed by Banks.

In The Paper Bag Princess, Princess Elizabeth is set to marry Prince Ronald. But when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps Ronald, Elizabeth must do what she can to save her prince. The delightful story proves you can be a princess and a hero — and shows you don’t need a prince to be either. 

Published in 1980, the book has been translated into 24 languages and sold seven million copies worldwide.

LISTEN | Looking back at The Paper Bag Princess:

The Sunday Edition31:40The Paper Bag Princess at 40

When it first came out, this flipped fairy tale — the princess rescues the prince — was almost revolutionary. In the spunky, messy and very independent Elizabeth, girls in Canada and around the world — many of them now mothers themselves — discovered a feminist heroine. Robert Munsch’s beloved book, which has sold seven million copies around the world, will celebrate a landmark birthday in the spring. Hear Munsch, illustrator Michael Martchenko, the “real” Elizabeth, Chelsea Clinton, Elizabeth May and others in Alisa Siegel’s documentary tribute, “It DOES Have a Happy Ending.” 31:40

 “[The] Paper Bag Princess is going to be a movie! Yes, Yes, Yes!” Munsch confirmed in a statement.

Munsch is one of the most celebrated and bestselling Canadian children’s writers of our time. Originally from the United States, he moved to Canada to work as a nursery school teacher and began telling stories there. He went on to become a bestselling children’s author. 

He has published nearly 100 books, including classics like The Paper Bag Princess, Love You Forever and 50 Below Zero, which have sold over 80 million copies in North America alone. His stories have been translated into 20 languages, and he annually receives about 10,000 fan letters. His latest is the picture book I Can Fix It!. Munsch lives in Guelph, Ont.

“For over 40 years we have heard about the impact The Paper Bag Princess has had on readers. A book that instills confidence, models courage and resilience and features a self-assured, witty heroine — while all the while being so entertaining — offers up a profound experience,” said Rick Wilks, co-publisher at Annick Press. 

“The filmmakers are committed to sharing these values and we couldn’t be more excited about seeing Elizabeth on the big screen.”

An interior spread from The Paper Bag Princess. (Annick Press)

The story of The Paper Bag Princess was inspired by Munsch’s wife, Ann Beeler, who worked in a daycare and pointed out that he always wrote about princes saving lives.

“The [kids] kept asking for dragon stories, so I had a whole bunch of dragon stories. But they were all about the prince saving the princess,” Munsch said during his recent interview with The Next Chapter.

“Ann came to me once and said, ‘Look, here we are in Coos Bay. There’s a recession. Half the women in that daycare centre have no husbands. There are no princes. Change the story.'”

Listen | Robert Munsch reflects on his legacy:

25:02Robert Munsch on his life in stories

In Robert Munsch’s first interview in a decade, he talks candidly about being diagnosed with dementia and about his life in stories. We listen to excerpts of his bestselling children’s books “Love You Forever” from AudioFile and Firefly Books and “Mud Puddle” published by Annick Press. Robert reveals the inspiration and meaning behind these stories and more. 25:02 

To celebrate the legacy of the tale, book shops, libraries and schools across North America celebrate Elizabeth each year on Paper Bag Princess Day.

The next Paper Bag Princess Day is Saturday, March 5, 2022, with the theme “I am a Paper Bag Princess.”

The adaptation was announced by Annick Press and marks one of Canada’s largest feature film deals in Hollywood.

Founded in 1975, Annick has published acclaimed children’s titles including The Paper Bag Princess, Red Is Best, Fatty Legs and The Power of Style.

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