Review: Pinocchio

Pinocchio Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Note: This review was originally written in the early 2000s and published for a no longer running website: AudiobookCafe. What’s magical, wooden, and has an affinity for trouble? Everyone’s favorite magical marionette, Pinocchio can be a downright nuisance or at least his original version can be. While Carlo Collodi’s “Pinocchio” has many similar traits to his Disney-counterpart, the original Pinocchio has many more misadventures and can be a most troublesome juvenile. The original story of Pinocchio by Collodi illustrates the impulsivity of youth and the burdening weight of adulthood.

The three main characters of the audiobook are Pinocchio, the living wooden puppet, Geppetto, a poor man who is Pinocchio’s caretaker, and the Blue Fairy, a magical creature with the ability to turn Pinocchio into a human boy. Pinocchio serves no end of misery and misfortune to his father, Geppetto. The old man endures through prison, sickness, poverty, and a continuous outpouring of lies from his wooden boy. Jepetto continues to give Pinocchio chances only to be disappointed and hurt. The Blue Fairy possesses undying love for Pinocchio and continually gives him opportunities to prove himself and be a good boy despite his unnerving knack for trouble.

Of all the “Pinocchio” movies and books out there, nothing seems comparable to Collodi’s original story. The 2002 movie, “Pinocchio” done by Robert Benini comes closest. Some of the more zanier “Pinocchio” stories were “Pinocchio in Outer Space,” “Pinocchio’s Revenge,” and even “The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio.” But the original shines above the rest with the story focusing primarily on Pinocchio and not as many other distractions. The famous sensible cricket and adviser to Pinocchio who was deemed “Jiminy Cricket” by Disney, plays a very minor role, seen three to four times in the audiobook, but never coming across as a wise and faithful companion to Pinocchio, nor serving as an active conscience for the troubled lad. Even the Blue Fairy, while the obvious mother figure doesn’t carry nearly as much influence upon Pinocchio as in other interpretations. That is, the temptation offered by the Blue Fairy for Pinocchio to become a real human boy is nonexistent through the first two-thirds of the audiobook.

Pinocchio’s famous trademark is a nose that grows when he tells a lie. But is Pinocchio all about telling the truth? No. Pinocchio’s tale is about self-actualization and coming of age. Pinocchio is an ‘everyboy’ on the brink of manhood who has lead a child’s life. Now, he must decide to put away the toys of yesterday or never be taken seriously. He must choose between his own amusement and the loss of his caretaker, Jepetto. In this sense, Pinocchio is more akin to Peter Pan.

Though written over a hundred years ago, Collodi amazingly captures the child’s mind. Pinocchio acts with the impulsivity of a newborn but gifted with the ability to articulate his thoughts. Like any baby, he can be quickly distracted and forget just what he was previously doing.

Rebecca Burns reads this audiobook with just the right precision for a fairy tale. Her voice soothes the reader and brings them back to a time when their snacks consisted of cookies with milk and they had naptime every day. She maintains great levels of excitement during much of Pinocchio’s adventures but edges in the mounting fears and sadness that he faces toward the end. While her Jepetto could use some tweaking, she perfects the Blue Fairy persona with a voice that betrays love, sadness, hope, and just a tiny bit of “I told you so.”

“Pinocchio” has become a classic fairy tale and listening to this production can only remind the listener why. He’s more than just a wooden puppet; he’s a gateway into our own hearts and a snapshot of those times in everyone’s life where they had to consciously choose to be an adult.

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