Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Share This Classic!

Pinocchio illustrated by Roberto Innocenti front cover
The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi and Roberto Innocenti. Creative Editions, 2005. Reviewed by parent Cynthia Willard.

Like most of us, I thought I knew the story of Pinocchio.  I was drawn into reading this version of the  original classic because I was familiar with the work of illustrator, Roberto Innocenti.  I quickly realized that my familiarity with the story came only through the exquisite but watered-down Disney film made in 1940.

The actual tale is both darker and stranger than the Disney version.  The original story was written in Florence in 1880 by Carlo Collodi, an Italian story teller.  The story is set in a small Italian village where a poor old wood carver, Geppetto, carves a puppet boy out of magical talking wood.  The puppet boy, named Pinocchio, is mischievous and impulsive. Geppetto soon comes to love the wooden puppet boy but expects him to  conform to certain values and behaviors: hard work, delayed gratification, and duty to one’s parents.  While Pinocchio loves Geppetto, he is selfish and unable to anticipate the consequences of his actions.  He misbehaves and falls afoul of a number of vivid and fantastic characters including  a talking cricket, a fairy with turquoise hair, a talking fox and cat, and a “mile high dogfish.”  He spends time traveling the Italian countryside where he visits strange places such as the Land of Toys and an ocean full of sea monsters.

Pinocchio comes to realize that he has a duty to Geppetto and that his actions have harmed him.  In a quest to rescue Geppetto after he is swallowed by a sea monster, Pinocchio suffers many abuses.  His feet are burned off, he is hung from a tree, and transformed into a donkey.  Eventually, Pinocchio, while not perfect, realizes that he loves Geppetto and rescues him.  The story ends when Pinocchio becomes a real boy.  Interestingly, Pinocchio’s redemption does not come as a result of conformity.  Pinocchio stays mischievous but learns to think of others and the consequences of his actions.  Geppetto loves Pinocchio as he is and embraces his spirited son.
The story is rich and intriguing.  However, the illustrations are the real draw.  Roberto Innocenti brings the story to vivid life with his exquisite, detailed paintings set in traditional 19th century Italy.  Check out the illustrator’s web site for biographical information, a list of books, and some stunning illustrations of his work. 
This book will make a fantastic read aloud for kids of all ages.  The large illustrated format may draw younger kids but the story will engage junior high kids as well.

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