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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


A Year in Disney Movies Week 2: Companion Books (Pinocchio) / Book 1/100: Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

The Adventures of Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi The Real Boy - Erin Mcguire, Anne Ursu Wild Children - Richard  Roberts Noah Barleywater Runs Away - John Boyne

The first book I reviewed this year was Pinocchio, which I read in conjunction with viewing the Disney film for week 2 of my Year in Disney Movies.


I wasn't really thrilled with the original story, but there are a couple other takes on it that I liked more.


The original:



PinocchioPinocchio by Carlo Collodi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I find that I don't have a lot of patience for books that are told in an "episodic" fashion -- I know serialized stories used to be much more common, but it's a storytelling style that has fallen out of fashion and it always feels disjointed to me. It made Pinocchio seem like such a long story, with just one thing after another happening to Pinocchio, without a clear sense of narrative unity. Pinocchio also was not a very likable character, and I know that the point is his character transformation, but it got to the point where it went on so long that it made it hard to believe he ever would change. Why would this resolution or episode be any different than the last twelve? I kinda wanted to roll my eyes every time he berated himself and insisted that he would be a "good boy" going forward.

Although the tone is a bit too didactic for my tastes, I CAN see how a child might get something different out of the book. The lack of narrative unity wouldn't have bothered me, and there is an element of wish fulfillment in all the naughty ways that Pinocchio acts out, culminating in his escape to "The Land of Boobies", thankfully renamed Pleasure Island in the Disney film. And I did find myself touched at the end, both by Pinocchio's discovery of his friend Candlewick as a dying donkey, and by his final transformation. Still, I was mostly just glad to be done.

View all my reviews


I've also read a couple other books that riff on the Pinocchio theme -

  • The Real Boy by Anne Ursu - The title of this book made me think it would be a more straightforward retelling of Pinocchio than it is. Instead, it takes a couple of the themes from Pinocchio but really stands alone as a children's fantasy novel in its own right, and it's beautiful.
  • Wild Children by Richard Roberts - After watching Pinocchio, I feel convinced that this book takes its inspiration from the story. In it, children are turned into various types of animals for their "sins," with some of them transforming more completely than others. The cover shows a girl with donkey ears who is very reminiscent of the transformed boys in Pinocchio. Unfortunately, the book suffers from poor editing but the ideas are interesting and the symbolism has the potential to be very resonant.


I also own Noah Barleywater Runs Away, which is a retelling of Pinocchio that I haven't read yet. Someday!