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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Carlo Collodi
Age Range: 9-11
Carlo Collodi’s classic Pinocchio has been given a unique makeover by Italian illustrator Sara Fanelli. Originally written for a Rome children’s magazine, the Giornale dei bambini, Pinocchio only appeared in book format in 1883. It was first translated into English in 1892 and there have been numerous translations and adaptations into English ever since. As well as having been translated into many other languages throughout the world, Pinocchio also became internationally recognised when Walt Disney made a film of it in 1940.
This is the universally well-known story of the wooden puppet carved from a piece of pine wood by Geppetto, the poor woodcarver, who lives in a small Italian village. Geppetto loves Pinocchio dearly and although the wayward puppet does love his father he finds it almost impossible to be good. From the moment Pinocchio is created he has a mind of his own and more than anything he longs to be a real boy.
When Pinocchio meets the Blue Fairy she promises to grant his wish if he can demonstrate that he is brave, loyal and honest. But Pinocchio just loves having fun and is easily tempted into making the wrong decisions and as he stumbles from one misadventure to another will he ever learn the difference between right and wrong?
Pinocchio has been illustrated many times before, including the hauntingly beautiful illustrations of Roberto Innocenti as well as being given the Disney treatment, so finding a new way of portraying this revered classic must have been daunting. Sara Fanelli has created a dream-like quality as well as incorporated a witty sense of street theatre which lightens the tone of the story.
The opening page is a monochrome photograph of the Italian countryside with a monument of Pinocchio standing proudly on the horizon, his long nose dominating the landscape. Every page thereafter is a burst of colour with a mix of collages, line drawings, watercolour sketches, tiny vignettes, diagrams, jokes, and scribbles.
There is a vast array of diversely entertaining illustrations that include some magnificent double spreads – such as the ones at the puppet theatre and the scary puppet master. Or the featuring the fox and cat is equally complex. The fox is set against a background of a 19th-century pastoral scene whilst the cat is set against a background of a contemporary landscape photomontage. Both the fox and the cat are larger than life collage figures that come across as incredibly sinister.
The picture of Pinocchio burying his gold coins in the Field of Miracles is also clever. Set out as a piece of film it suggests movement and the passage of time in the small sequence of cartoon-like vignettes. The final picture of Pinocchio as a real boy is shown as an old sepia formal portrait photograph of a very solemn little boy in his Sunday best. He poses rather woodenly and the symbolism of the gnarled tree trunk that he stands beside will not be lost on the reader.
The new translation by Emma Rose is refreshingly modern and the high quality finish of this book is superb.