*Spoilers ahead* Over the years I have always wanted to read some of the books that were reinvented into Disney classics. I started with Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. We begin our story with Master Antonio, a carpenter who has a unique piece of wood. Every time he tries to cut into it, it cries out and complains. When Gepetto comes in, asking for wood to make a puppet our talking wood piece starts trouble by calling him names and inciting mischief. After two fights, they part as friends with Antonio having given Gepetto the talking wood.
As Gepetto is fashioning his puppet, it cannot keep from being cheeky. Once it has eyes it gives him odd looks, once it has a mouth it sticks it’s tongue out at him, once it has legs it kicks him. (Now me, in these days, I would be saying “that thing’s possessed” and getting it into a fire but that would make for a very short story.) What should happen when Gepetto taught the rascal to walk but that Pinocchio ran clear away. Once he caught him, Gepetto was furious. Pinocchio, true to type, threw himself on the ground and threw a fit causing a stir in the crowd that appeared. So Gepetto is taken prisoner for mistreatment of the child/puppet and Pinocchio is alone and starving. There seems to be nothing in the house save an egg, but when he cracks it a chick comes out and runs away. All this time he meets the talking cricket who wants to warn him about rebelling against one’s parents. He has all sorts of advice, go to school or learn a trade… obviously Pinocchio doesn’t want to hear this. He has ideas of living the vagabond life and amusing himself. He eventually throws a hammer at the cricket and flattens it against a wall. (Very un-Disney).
Eventually Gepetto comes home and all is forgiven. He makes Pinocchio clothes, shoes and a hat out of stuff in the house, then goes out and sells his coat so that his boy can have a spelling book. Well, Pinocchio is very touched by this and determined to be good and go to school. He has to learn and make his papa proud. Sadly this does not last long. Hearing music on the way to school, he follows it to a puppet show. He sells his book for the price of admittance (it really is much harder to love this Pinocchio). Through an odd series of events, he ends up disturbing the show and the Fire-eater, the showman, is going to use him for kindling to make up for lost revenue. Of course Pinocchio repents and cries, softening the heart of the showman. When he decides to take one of his own puppets instead, Pinocchio is beside himself. He doesn’t want his friend hurt, so he offers himself up. Well the showman is so touched that he pardons the puppet and sends Pinocchio on his way with money for his papa.
The other adventures are just as crazy. He gets pulled into a make-money-quick scheme before even getting home. Then he is lynched only to be saved just in the nick of time. He gets caught in a trap when trying to take some grapes from a field and is pressed into service as a guard god, which is one thing he does well. Once he is released from this he goes to find his father. Gepetto, worried sick has built himself a little boat to look further out for Pinocchio (some time has passed). The waves take him, and though Pinocchio tries, he cannot get to his father. Pinocchio washes up on shore and goes to a village to beg for food. No one will give him any without work and so he stays there starving for some time. Finally an elderly woman gives him water and offers him a meal if he will help carry her water cans. After eating, he realizes his savior is the blue fairy that he had known before. They stay together for a time. Pinocchio tries hard and does well in school. He makes lots of friends, but his favorite are the ones his school master and blue fairy don’t want him around. The bad boys lead Pinocchio on an adventure one day. They skip school claiming to be going to see the huge Dog-fish. Well, Pinocchio goes as well, but once they reach the coast the seven boys gang up on Pinocchio, angry at him for studying and making them look bad. One boy ends up badly injured and the others run away. Pinocchio is caught and accused of hurting Eugene. He runs away and finally jumps into the sea.
There are more adventures, but this review is getting longer than I thought it would. In the end, he and his papa are reunited and he works and cared for Gepetto so well that the blue fairy gives him the gift of becoming a real boy at last.
While I liked this story, Disney’s Pinocchio will always have my heart and I have to say that that is the version I would give my kids if I had any. I cannot say that this would be suitable for the very young… even if that was the target audience at the time it was written.
Still, check it out for yourself. I found it to be a great read.
On the adult content scale I would give it a two for violence.
Link to book: