The 1883 classic tale of the rather naughty wooden puppet. The translation I read was by M.A. Murray, illustrated by Mariano Leone. The story begins with a carpenter Master Cherry coming upon a rather unusual piece of wood which seems to talk and laugh, and even cry. He hands this over to his friend Geppetto who has at that time come looking for a piece of wood to make a puppet by which he can earn a living. But even as he is making the puppet, he realises that this no ordinary puppet for it not only speaks to him, but begins to get into mischief like pulling off the poor man’s wig. And once Pinocchio is made, more mischief ensues as the boy is interested only in having his own way, even if poor old Geppetto has to suffer (even go to prison) in the process. But Pinocchio is not bad hearted. He in fact feels for his father and really wishes to do him some good. With good intentions, he starts off to school with his spelling book but before long is distracted by a puppet show. This is the beginning of a series of adventures where Pinocchio falls into one soup after another (from nearly being fried as a fish to turning into a donkey), while attempting quite sincerely every so often to turn good, and ultimately to become a boy.
Before I go into my thoughts in the book, I’d just like to write about the edition that I have which is the Companion Library edition (1965) published by Grosset and Dunlap. When I bought this book (second-hand) I didn’t realise that this was actually two books in one, starting on opposite ends (see picture below). So it was a real surprise when I got home and noticed that. It has some nice cheerful (green and white) endpapers. I also quite liked the illustrations (the illustrators of both books must be related, Mariano Leone for this one and Sergio Leone for the King Arthur book), and especially the cover.
Anyway, now back to the actual book. For starters, I realised when I read that book that I hadn’t actually ever read it before. The impression I had of Pinocchio is of a boy-puppet who told lies which made his nose grow long, which was then restored if he tells the truth—something which would go on till he learnt his lesson. But this was not just that, in fact there were literally only two episodes of this. Pinocchio gets into various forms of mischief, but his worst habits are being disobedient and getting tempted by whatever people (usually the wrong sort) tell him rather than listening to good advice. That he is lazy, and like many children would rather be having fun than going to school adds to his troubles, and he finds himself in trouble (even on the verge of losing his life) each time he strays. But the kind of adventures he has and the different settings and characters are very imaginative, fun, and a real delight to read about. I enjoyed the descriptions, for instance of the poodle, Medoro who was sent by the blue-haired fairy to rescue Pinocchio:
“He was in the full dress livery of a coachman. On his head was a three-cornered cap braided with gold, his curly white wig came down onto his shoulders, he had a chocolate-colored waistcoat with diamond buttons, and two large pockets to contain the bones that his mistress gave him at dinner. He had besides a pair of short crimson velvet breeches, silk stockings, cut-down shoes, and hanging behind him a species of umbrella case made of blue satin, to put his tail into when the weather was rainy.”
And the story is full of humour. There are also some (though not a lot) of rather Alicey (in wonderland) lines. For instance:
“I wish to know from you gentlemen, if this unfortunate puppet is alive or dead!”
“To my belief the puppet is already quite dead; but if unfortunately he should not be dead, then it would be a sign that he is still alive.”
“I regret,” said the Owl, “to be obliged to contradict the Crow, my illustrious friend and colleague; but in my opinion the puppet is still alive; but if unfortunately he should not be alive, then it would be a sign that he is dead indeed!”
This is a humorous and fun read, and although it does (and understandably so) get preachy in parts about how young boys should behave (after all it was meant to teach a lesson), I found it to be a really enjoyable read.
#BookReview #ChildrensLiterature #Classic #Humour #Fantasy