What happens after Pinocchio becomes a real boy?
In Carter’s fanciful sequel, though people think the gift of life is Geppetto’s doing, it actually belongs to the boy. But Pino’s talent for carving and animating lifelike images brings him and his father nothing but trouble. Followed by the wife-and-mother puppet Pino creates, whom even fire cannot destroy, they run away from desperate and threatening neighbors and embark on a series of adventures and escapes. Everywhere, they are besieged by people who want what Geppetto has, the dead apparently brought to life. And throughout, Pino is gradually turning back into wood, perhaps because of his use of his gift. As in Collodi’s original story, the moral is explicit. For the 19th-century author, happiness came from being well-behaved. For today’s readers, it becomes acceptance of one’s difference, being “true to yourself.” The moral seems to be tacked on to an otherwise entertaining series of discrete adventures that are good for reading aloud. Each chapter ends on a suspenseful note, leading readers on, but the resolution disappoints.
Those who only remember Pinocchio as the untruthful boy in the Disney film may be surprised by this different character. But for readers already familiar with the original, this is an interesting exercise. (Fantasy. 9-12)