Book Review of The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) by Carlo Collodi

By Andrea Boggs | Posted: 6 October 2014

In July of 2014, actor Dick Jones died at the age of 87. He had played the voice of Pinocchio (1940) in the Walt Disney classic when he was a child.  Jones was born in 1927 in McKinney, Texas and he was discovered at a hometown rodeo by the cowboy film star Hoot Gibson, who told Jones’ mother her son “should be in pictures,” and who paid for the little future actor and his mother to travel to Hollywood.  During the making of Pinocchio, the child actor Dick Jones also worked on the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Besides being the voice of Pinocchio, the young Dick Jones also wore a puppet costume and acted out scenes which besides helping the actor get into character, was also said to have helped the artists draw the cartoon Pinocchio. Pinocchio, the fictional little boy puppet was born in 1883 to his literary father Carlo Lorenzini (penname Collodi) and his fictional father Gepetto, the woodcarver-toymaker.  Pinocchio and Gepetto’s names are the same in the book as in the Disney movie. The tale by Collodi also has more characters and scenes not appearing in the movie by Walt Disney pictures. Collodi's original version of Pinocchio can be accessed for free on the internet. []Pinocchio is a fun story with talking creatures like the cricket, Giminy. A theme in the beginning of the story, is Gepetto’s poverty. Although the animated movie is charming, there is a lot of humor in the original Pinocchio story which is not carried over into the movie and there is also a layer of sadness, due to Gepetto’s being poor and not having much to eat. Details to the effect of hunger do not appear in the movie as much as in the literature. In the Disney movie Gepetto seems happy, and creative and from the richness of his many hand made coo-coo clocks, productive.  He would seem to have time and money to spare.  However in the Collodi story this is not true. Gepetto can barely afford to feed himself, much less a child. In the Disney movie, it is Pinocchio who wants to be a boy, but in the literary version, you get the feeling that Gepetto wants to be a father of a good little boy as much as Pinocchio wants to be a real little boy.Collodi sometimes refers to Pinocchio in the story as “the marionette.” Since Pinocchio is rebellious, energetic and curious -  his personality gives Gepetto an opportunity to pass on his wisdom in hopes of making the little marionette a little bit less vulnerable and foolish as he grows up. The literary version is an attempt by Collodi (through Gepetto and Giminiy Cricket) to pass knowledge and guidance to the younger generation. In some ways the Father and Son relationship between Gepetto and Pinocchio mirrors the relationship between the heavenly Father and any individual.Much of Collodi’s wisdom from the literary version of Pinocchio is not carried over in the movie for example the “Pear Scene.”Leading up to the Pear Scene is the incident where little Pinocchio runs away from his father Gepetto’s home early in the story because he doesn’t want to go to school.  Pinocchio soon finds out that he begins to hunger for something to eat. He leaves his hideout in an attempt to go into town and beg for food, but all he gets for his efforts is a bucket of icy water poured on his head from a man in a night cap from a 2nd story window. Pinocchio returns to his hideout and warms his feet on the wood fire stove. However since his feet are not real feet just wooden feet, he does not feel them burn off after he falls asleep. In the morning, while Pinocchio is still half asleep, his father Gepetto comes to find him and rescue him from where he has gone.When Pinocchio hears his father knocking at the door he is still half asleep. He gets up to answer the door not realizing he has pegs where his feet used to be, and goes tumbling down hard to the floor.Lying on the floor with his father standing outside the door, Pinocchio thinks a cat has eaten his feet because from the floor, he can see a cat playing with wood shavings in the corner. Ch.9 “Fathers are indeed good to their children!” He tells his father Gepetto that he can’t answer the door because a cat has eaten his feet. This angers Gepetto who thinks Pinocchio is lying and threatens to give him a beating, however when he gets inside he sees that Pinocchio is hungry and has burned his feet off, and Gepetto lovingly takes Pinocchio back home.

Back at Gepetto’s house, Gepetto feeling sorry for the hungry, wailing marionette, decides to give up his dinner of 3 pears for Pinocchio to eat. Although Pinocchio is made of wood he has a real appetite which causes him suffering if he has nothing to eat, and Gepetto understands this. When Gepetto gives his son the pears, Pinoccho asks him to peel them for him. Gepetto’s reaction is:“Peel them? asked Gepetto, very much surprised. “I should never have thought, dear boy of mine, that you were so dainty and fussy about your food. Bad, very bad! In this world even as children, we must accostom ourselves to eat of everything, for we never know what life may hold in store for us!”          “You may be right,” answered Pinocchio, “but I will not eat the pears unless they are peeled. I do not like them.” And good old Gepetto took out a knife, peeled the 3 pears, and put the skins in a row on the table.” Pinocchio ate one pear in a twinkling and started to throw the core away, but Gepetto held his arm. “Oh no, don’t throw it away! Everything in this world may be of some use!” “But the core I will not eat!” cried Pinocchio in an agry tone. “Who knows?” repeated Gepetto calmly. Pinoccho had eaten 3 pears or rather devoured them. Then he yawned deeply and wailed: “I’m still hungry!” “But I have no more to give you.” “Really, nothing-nothing?” “I have only these 3 cores and these skins.” “Very well then, if there is nothing else I will eat them.” “At first he made a wry face, but, one after another, the skins and the core disappeared.” “Ah! Now I feel fine!” he said after eating the last one. “You see,” observed Gepetto, “that I was right when I told you that we must not be too fussy and too dainty about food. My dear we never know what life may have in store for us.”

Carlo Collodi, author of Pinocchio (1883)
Carlo Collodi. b. 1826 author of Pinocchio.

Schudel, M. (13 July 2014) Voiced the role of Pinocchio in Disney animated classic U-T San Diego p. A31.