The classic tale of the wooden boy who wants to become real gets a 21st-century update.
McMullan presents readers with a straightforward retelling of Pinocchio’s lies and trials based on the Carlo Collodi original. Those unfamiliar with that text will undoubtedly be surprised by what they find here. McMullan pulls no punches, recounting every step of the puppet’s journey, even when it doesn’t make much sense. Some will find the herky-jerky nature and bizarre violence of Collodi’s original tale off-putting. Characters that die one moment (Cricket, Blue Fairy, etc.) may then walk about without any explanation for their resuscitations the next. Fortunately Lemaitre’s art goes a long way toward softening some of the harsher elements of the tale, his cartoonish style offering a humanity and pathos to a character that might otherwise prove too flawed to love. The episodic nature of Pinocchio’s adventuring (the original book was syndicated in newspapers) pairs remarkably well with this simple format for emerging readers. Despite the series title—Cartoon Classic—the text-to-picture ratio slots this squarely in the early-chapter category rather than the graphic-novel section.
A sharp, ultimately appealing corrective to Disney’s better-known confection. (Fiction. 7-10)