It would seem that I’m not the only classic turning forty this year. As well as me entering my fortieth year, some beloved children’s books are also entering a new decade.
‘The Paper Bag Princess’ by Robert Munsch, art by Michael Martchenko (Annick Press)
It was this special 40th anniversary edition of a classic feminist fairy tale which started me thinking about other books from the same era which have stood the test of time. But I’ll get to those in a minute. First, going to tell those of you who don’t know all about The Paper Bag Princess.
Princess Elizabeth is all set to marry the rather gorgeous Prince Ronald. But when a dragon attacks the castle, kidnaps the prince and leaves poor Elizabeth without a stitch to wear, Elizabeth decides to take matters into her own hands.
Wearing only a paper bag, Elizabeth sets off to chase down the dragon and rescue the prince. However, when she finally manages this, the prince is less than impressed by her appearance and tells her off for looking a mess. Elizabeth quickly reaches the conclusion that she’s probably better off without a prince and skips merrily off into the sunset. Alone.
Forty years old, but as inspiring and empowering as ever. This special new edition will help a new generation of readers discover they have the power to rescue themselves and defeat their own dragons.
So I mentioned earlier other classic titles which are also celebrating their fortieth birthdays. Here are a few of my favourites. Which others would you add?
‘The Twits’ by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Puffin Books)
Everyone’s favourite gruesome twosome first leapt onto our bookshelves in 1980. Home to some of the best, and most cunning, tricks I’ve ever read – worm spaghetti will continue to delight readers for years to come.
‘Peace at Last’ by Jill Murphy (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Jill Murphy’s picture books played a huge part in my childhood reading and are now read by me to my own children. Poor old Mr Bear just can’t get to sleep. Whether it’s his wife’s snoring, a ticking clock or birds singing, it seems that everything’s conspiring to keep Mr Beat awake. Will he EVER get some sleep?!
Funnybones’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (Puffin Books)
“On a dark, dark hill, there was a dark, dark, down…” never was there a more iconic opening to a picture book, or a more lovable pair of skeletons (and a skeledog!) A pure classic from picture book geniuses which I loved, my own children love and I am sure future generations will also love.
Happy birthday to all these marvellous books. 1980 was obviously a vintage year!
Library Girl (older not wiser)