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The Adventures of Pinocchio

The Adventures of Pinocchio, C. Collodi
Translated by M. A. Murray
(Grosset & Dunlap, 1965)
Ages 5 and up

My wife just finished reading this book with our boys. I had often heard that the book was significantly different from- and superior to- the Disney adaptation. Now the experience of my wife and boys and the portions I was able to hear confirm this. You cannot assume you know the real story simply because you have the Disney truncation.

This is a humorous, adventurous tale about the typical boyish temptations to disobedience and laziness. I came home often to hear my boys laughing at a portion of the story, or retelling me a part, or to my wife retelling a portion that spoke so well to our own battles with school.

There were good lessons for our boys. For example at one point as Pinocchio continued to run from school in pursuit of amusement someone said to him:
“Bear it in mind, simpleton! Boys who refuse to study, and turn their backs upon books, schools, and masters, to pass their time in play and amusements, sooner or later come to a bad end – I know it by experience – and I can tell you. A day will come when you will weep as I am weeping now – but then it will be too late!”
The burden of the book is to show the trouble that comes from avoiding responsibility, particularly school work. This is very applicable to our world!

One point we have often made to our boys is that when they are slow or resistant to doing their work, it negatively affects our whole family. Obedience in contrast blesses the entire family (things go well, there is peace, etc.). This story makes the same point when Pinocchio changes:
“Because when boys who have behaved badly turn over a new leaf and become good, they have the power of bringing contentment and happiness to their families.”

When Pinocchio changes to a boy, we even see a picture of repentance- which is an implicit call to repentance from the audience:
“How ridiculous I was when I was a puppet! And how glad I am that I have become a well-behaved little boy!”

Pinocchio’s change from a puppet to a boy does not parallel conversion but maturation. It is not an overt story about the need for a new heart (the root issue), but is a good story about the need to mature and take on responsibility (a key issue as well, particularly for boys).

We would commend this book to you as a fun and edifying read.

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