Nenia Campbell's Reviews > Pinocchio

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
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Mar 06, 14

Read on February 29, 2012

I am having a blast reading classic children's fantasy and faerie tales that were Disney-fied, or otherwise modernized to better suit twentieth century propriety. Pinocchio the book is quite a bit different than Pinocchio the movie. I feel like the book has a better message to send. Whereas the Disney Pinocchio was rather naive and a victim of circumstance, the book Pinocchio starts off as a rather unsavory character. He acts, in other words, like a very naughty boy with ADHD. Throughout the course of the book, he learns a series of lessons that ultimately teach him morality. The cool thing about this is that he doesn't learn these lessons all at once, the way we sometimes see characters redeem themselves in films: morality, in Carlo Collodi's world, is a scaffolding process. Sometimes, while going up, you slide back down, like a game of moral chutes and ladders.

Pinocchio starts out as a piece of wood that can talk. The carpenter who owns this wood is shocked and frightened - he sells the wood to a marionette-maker named Geppetto, who makes it into a very lifelike puppet: Pinocchio. Pinocchio runs away from Geppetto and races around the countryside causing mischief, and causing eternal heartbreak to those foolish enough to care about him.

This Pinocchio is prone to emotional bouts - to the point of being manipulative, almost - but he also has a cruel streak. For example, on one of his escapades, he meets a talking cricket (who I suspect Jimminy was modeled after in the film). The cricket tells him that he is very naughty and gives him some advice that he does not want to hear. Angered, Pinocchio throws a stone at the cricket and kills him. That's right. Kills him.

The blue fairy is in here, too, but she's called "the azure fairy," and is sterner than the well-meaning but rather vapid woman in the Disney movie. Some of her lessons to Pinocchio are quite cruel: when he abandons her as a young girl, she fakes her own death to make Pinocchio think that his poor treatment of her made her die of a broken heart. The azure fairy can - and does - turn into a goat for some reason. I'm not sure why, but it cracked me up because it was so random.

Also, instead of Pleasure Island (from the film), boys who don't like school go to the Land of Toys - which is extremely similar, and no less sinister. The man who drives the carriage, for example, bites the ears off the donkey that tries to warn Pinocchio away from this horrible journey. And Pinocchio actually does become a donkey, and gets sold to a circus man who makes him do tricks until his legs give out. Then the lame Pinoccio donkey is sold to a man who wants to use his hide to make a drum! Eek! Scarrrrry.

Pinocchio isn't *too* dark, though. After all, it *is* a children's tale, and is no more sinister than the Brothers Grimm. All of the violence is abstract and very fantastical. So if you're having reservations about reading this (or reading it *to* someone) - never fear. On a side note: I love how this book weaves morality into the storyline without being too obvious. What little violence and scariness there was, was usually to prove a point. Some of the loveliest passages were when one character or another was stressing the importance of kindness, sharing, compassion, philanthropy, personal enterprise, and karma.

This line in particular was one of my favorites:

"I have only wanted to remind you of the trick you long ago played upon me, to teach you that in this world of ours we must be kind and courteous to others, if we want to find kindness and courtesy in our own days of trouble."

Isn't that sweet? I think I actually like this version better than the Disney one. As an added bonus, it even has a happy ending!
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Reading Progress

02/29/2012 """Don't listen to those who promise you wealth overnight, my boy. As a rule they are either fools or swindlers!""

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