There once lived a beautiful princess named Elizabeth, later known as The Paper Bag Princess, who was to be married to a Prince Ronald. Unfortunately, before they could get married, a dragon burned down Elizabeth’s castle, her clothes, and kidnapped Prince Ronald away.
With all her clothes burnt, Elizabeth put on the only thing she could that wasn’t burnt, a paper bag, and set off to find Prince Ronald. It wasn’t very difficult to follow the dragon because all Elizabeth had to do was follow the fiery trail left behind.
After catching up to the dragon, Elizabeth tricks it into showing off its talents: the ability to burn things and the speed at which it can fly around the world. After showing off, the dragon became so tired that it went to sleep and so Elizabeth was able to get to Prince Ronald.
When she reaches Prince Ronald, he chastises her about her tangled hair, her body smelling like ashes, and of course her choice of attire – the paper bag. Prince Ronald tells her to come back when she looks like a real princess. Elizabeth tells the prince that his clothes are pretty and his hair is neat and he looks like a real prince, but he is a bum.
From age say 0-8, children will enjoy the story but won’t understand the moral. From about age 8-20, people will understand the moral, but will no longer enjoy the story. I think The Paper Bag Princess is one of those stories where you have to read to children, or let them read it themselves, and the understanding will come at a later date.