HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Adventures of Pinocchio
Author: Carol Collodi (Carlo Lorenzini)
Illustrator: Enrico Mazzanti
Publisher: Oxford University Press USA, reissued in 2009
Related website: www.oup.com/.worldsclassics
Language level: 1 (“golly” and “O Lord” are each used once as exclamations)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9-11
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Collodi (Lorenzini), Carlo. The Adventures of Pinocchio (originally published in 1883; republished in 1996 by Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon St., Oxford OX2 6DP England). Most everyone is generally familiar with the story of Pinocchio, although this familiarity is usually the result of the Walt Disney animated film. Actually, the movie does a reasonably good job of following the book, although it leaves a lot out and makes quite a few changes. A master carpenter named Anthony, whom everyone calls Maestro Cherry, comes across a piece of magic wood. He gives it to his friend Geppetto, a puppeteer who fashions a puppet whom he names Pinocchio. The puppet immediately runs off. Geppetto chases him and is put in jail when he tries to punish his wayward puppet. When Pinocchio returns home, the Talking Cricket tries to warn him about the error of his ways, but he kills it with a hammer, though it reappears two or three times later as a ghost.
Geppetto gets out of jail, but instead of going to school Pinocchio wanders off again to see a puppet show and is taken by the puppeteer Swallowfire who eventually releases him and sends him back to Geppetto with five coins. However, Pinocchio meets the Fox and the Cat, who talk him into going to the Field of Miracles in the land of Boobies where they tell him he can plant his five coins and they will grow into thousands. The two swindle him out of one coin for dinner and then leave him at an inn. When Pinocchio goes out to find them, they disguise themselves, try to rob him, and eventually hang him. He is saved by a little girl who turns out to be “the fairy with the blue hair.” She invites him to live with her and even sends for Geppetto, but he follows the Fox and Cat again and loses his coins to them. Later, after several other adventures, he returns to find that the little girl has died and shortly after that learns that Geppetto went to sea in search of him and was lost, perhaps swallowed by the great shark (not Monstro the whale) swimming in that area. He even ends up with his friend Candle-Wick in “The Land of Toys” and turns into a donkey. Will Pinocchio ever make it home? Will he find his Papa? Will he see the Blue Fairy again?
It appears that Collodi, penname for Carlo Lorenzini, originally had not intended the novel as children’s literature. However, the first fifteen chapters, at the unhappy ending of which Pinocchio dies a gruesome death by hanging, were serialized in a children’s magazine between 1881 and 1883. At the request of his editor, Collodi added chapters 16–36, in which the Fairy rescues Pinocchio and eventually transforms him into a real boy. The entire story then was published as a book for children in February, 1883. Thus, it allegorically deals with some serious themes but in the end Pinocchio acquires a deeper understanding of himself, making the story suitable for children. The original English translation was made in 1892 by Mary E. Murray and is used in the Penguin Classics edition (2002). The Puffin Classics edition (1996) uses a translation by E. Harden. New York Review Books published a new translation in 2008 by Geoffrey Brock. The Oxford University Press edition that I bought has “an authoritative new translation” by Ann Lawson Lucas. I suppose that Lucas’s translation is all right, but instead of leaving Gepetto’s name as it is, she translates it as “Old Joe.” Personally, I think that I would have rather read Murray’s translation. All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. Though a little grim at times, it does teach some important lessons.