THE PAPER PRINCESS
Dutton Children'Books, 1994
A PBS Storytime Book
Book of the Month Club Selection
The paper princess is many different things to the many characters in her story. To the little girl who made her she is, of
course, a princess and a work of art to be proud of, “the best thing I’ve ever made.” To the little girl who finds her on the playground she is just an unfinished paper doll, an object she throws away after mistakenly giving it green hair. To the the bird who finds the princess in the trash can she is “a fat wad of paper”, a handy piece of material she’d like to weave into her nest. To the little boy in the meadow the princess becomes a piece of blank paper on which to draw a birthday card. Once she is returned to the girl who made her, the princess becomes a beloved princess once again. Like the paper princess herself, my books take on new meanings each time they are “finished” by my readers.
“Kleven has taken this simple story and given it style and heart. The events, some of which are purely fanciful or
highly unlikely, all seem authentic. Giving an inanimate object a believable personality is not an easy feat, and the author does a fine job of it. Her graceful phrases add a lyrical air, and emotions are described with a light and delicate touch. Her multi- medium collages have never looked fresher or more interesting. The world she creates is not necessarily free form danger or sadness, yet it is predominantly full of beauty and sunlight. All the elements of the visual arts -- texture, pattern, shape, color and line -- come alive in her skillful hands. The best book yet from this talented author/illustrator, and one that children will love”.
-- starred, School Library Journal
“Kleven’s story and art work in tandem to encourage entrance to the wide open world of self-expression. Youngsters will not doubt be inspired to fire up their crayons, markers and paints after this outing.”
-- Publishers Weekly
“With her shoes like watermelons and her dress like a forest, the paper princess is both childlike and princesslike... Kleven’s collage artwork is as spectacular as it was in ABUELA: it celebrates family, diversity, and individuality. This magical world, in which blue jays have feathers of Florentine paper and princesses have sweaters to wear when they go flying, is full of the spirit of creativity and the importance of finding a home.”
“The Paper Princess is a lovely story, beautifully illustrated.”
-- New York Times
Read an interview with Virginia Law Manning about the origins of THE PAPER PRINCESS by clicking here
THE PAPER PRINCESS in Japanese and Korean
Paper Princess Musical Theatre Production, by Youth in Arts
"The Paper Princess and the Pinata" premiered at the Marin Center Showcase Theatre in San Rafael, California in February, 2011. The production was beautifully adapted by director Miko Lee from HOORAY A PINATA! and the PAPER PRINCESS book series. View a few scenes from the production by clicking here.
With cast members from the
Youth In Arts musical production
Another play based on THE PAPER PRINCESS, produced by Monkeyshine Theatre, toured Ireland in Spring, 2011, then continued on to an international storytelling festival in Norway. In 2013 the prouduction was also shown at the Edinburgh Fringe Arts Festival.
THE PAPER PRINCESS was also brought to life by a creative and brave little girl named Ashley Bilbao. While battling cancer at Children's Hospital Oakland, Ashley made a film based on the book. She also created her own world of paper princesses and princes, kings and queens, until the end of her too-short life.
In 2019 THE PAPER PRINCESS was invited to be the focus of a Unitarian Universalist Church service in Grass Valley, CA. The Reverend Kevin Tarsa wrote me to say "We are using monthly themes to focus our services and our attention. The theme for March is 'journey'. We are asking ourselves, "What does it mean to be a people of journey?
Over the course of the month we'll explore this theme from several angles - the inner journey, the congregation's journey, the journey of the people in the Central American caravan and what we are called to do in response.
To begin the month and to introduce the theme we hold an full community service.We have found that a well-crafted story offers a strong anchor for such a service, one that speaks to all ages. When we have great illustrations to go with, the visual language helps to strengthen the story's message, especially for those whose primary language is visual. Your illustrations will be a wonderful part of the experience.
I was moved by The Paper Princess in a way that surprised me. That middle part of the journey - being lost, crumpled, scribbled upon, tossed away, splotched with food items, pecked at, and then being seen and understood and helped - touched me. I expect that others will hear their own lives or the lives of loved ones through that imagery and those metaphors."
When I first sent my unfinished paper character out into the world in 1994, I never imagined that she would take so many interesting journeys, or be "finished" by so many amazing people.
Quilt block by Aairyn Maxwell, showing Paper Princess trying on "candy wrapper hair."