|Once upon a time... a
carpenter, picked up a strange lump of wood one day
while mending a table. When he began to chip it, the wood started to moan.
This frightened the carpenter and he decided to get rid of it at once, so he
gave it to a friend called Geppetto, who wanted to make a puppet. Geppetto, a
cobbler, took his lump of wood home, thinking about the name he would give his
"I'll call him Pinocchio," he told himself. "It's a lucky name." Back in
his humble basement home and workshop, Geppetto started to carve the wood.
Suddenly a voice squealed:
"Ooh! That hurt!" Geppetto was astonished to find that the wood was alive.
Excitedly he carved a head, hair and eyes, which immediately stared right at
the cobbler. But the second Geppetto carved out the nose, it grew longer and
longer, and no matter how often the cobbler cut it down to size, it just
stayed a long nose. The newly cut mouth began to chuckle and when Geppetto
angrily complained, the puppet stuck out his tongue at him. That was nothing,
however! When the cobbler shaped the hands, they snatched the good man's wig,
and the newly carved legs gave him a hearty kick. His eyes brimming with
tears, Geppetto scolded the puppet.
"You naughty boy! I haven't even finished making you, yet you've no respect
for your father!" Then he picked up the puppet and, a step at a time, taught
him to walk. But the minute Pinocchio stood upright, he started to run about
the room, with Geppetto after him, then he opened the door and dashed into the
street. Now, Pinocchio ran faster than Geppetto and though the poor cobbler
shouted "Stop him! Stop him!" none of the onlookers, watching in amusement,
moved a finger. Luckily, a policeman heard the cobbler's shouts and strode
quickly down the street. Grabbing the runaway, he handed him over to his
"I'll box your ears," gasped Geppetto, still out of breath. Then he
realized that was impossible, for in his haste to carve the puppet, he had
forgotten to make his ears. Pinocchio had got a fright at being in the
clutches of the police, so he apologized and Geppetto forgave his son.
Indeed, the minute they reached home, the cobbler made Pinocchio a suit
out of flowered paper, a pair of bark shoes and a soft bread hat. The puppet
hugged his father.
"I'd like to go to school," he said, "to become clever and help you when
you're old!" Geppetto was touched by this kind thought.
"I'm very grateful," he replied, "but we haven't enough money even to buy
you the first reading book!" Pinocchio looked downcast, then Geppetto
suddenly rose to his feet, put on his old tweed coat and went out of the
house. Not long after he returned carrying a first reader, but minus his
coat. It was snowing outside.
"Where's your coat, father?"
"I sold it."
"Why did you sell it?"
"It kept me too warm!"
Pinocchio threw his arms round Geppetto's neck and kissed the kindly old
It had stopped snowing and Pinocchio set out for school with his first
reading book under his arm. He was full of good intentions. "Today I want to
learn to read. Tomorrow I'll learn to write and the day after to count. Then
I'll earn some money and buy Geppetto a fine new coat. He deserves it,
for . . ." The sudden sound of a brass band broke into the puppet's daydream
and he soon forgot all about school. He ended up in a crowded square where
people were clustering round a brightly colored booth.
"What's that?" he asked a boy.
"Can't you read? It's the Great Puppet Show!"
"How much do you pay to go inside?"
"Who'll give me fourpence for this brand new book?" Pinocchio cried. A
nearby junk seller bought the reading book and Pinocchio hurried into the
booth. Poor Geppetto. His sacrifice had been quite in vain. Hardly had
Pinocchio got inside, when he was seen by one of the puppets on the stage
who cried out:
"There's Pinocchio! There's Pinocchio!"
"Come, along. Come up here with us. Hurrah for brother Pinocchio!" cried
the puppets. Pinocchio went onstage with his new friends, while the
spectators below began to mutter about uproar. Then out strode Giovanni, the
puppet-master, a frightful looking man with fierce bloodshot eyes.
"What's going on here? Stop that noise! Get in line, or you'll hear about
That evening, Giovanni sat down to his meal, but when he found that more
wood was needed to finish cooking his nice chunk of meat, he remembered the
intruder who had upset his show.
"Come here, Pinocchio! You'll make good firewood!" The poor puppet started
to weep and plead.
"Save me, father! I don't want to die . . . I don't want to die!" When
Giovanni heard Pinocchio's cries, he was surprised.
"Are your parents still alive?" he asked.
"My father is, but I've never known my mother," said the puppet in a low
voice. The big man's heart melted.
"It would be beastly for your father if I did throw you into the fire . . .
but I must finish roasting the mutton. I'll just have to burn another puppet.
Men! Bring me Harlequin, trussed!" When Pinocchio saw that another puppet was
going to be burned in his place, he wept harder than ever.
"Please don't, sir! Oh, sir, please don't! Don't burn Harlequin!"
"That's enough!" boomed Giovanni in a rage. "I want my meat well cooked!"
"In that case," cried Pinocchio defiantly, rising to his feet, "burn me!
It's not right that Harlequin should be burnt instead of me!"
Giovanni was taken aback. "Well, well!" he said. "I've never met a puppet
hero before!" Then he went on in a milder tone. "You really are a good lad. I
might indeed . . ." Hope flooded Pinocchio's heart as the puppet-master stared
at him, then at last the man said: "All right! I'll eat half-raw mutton
tonight, but next time, somebody will find himself in a pickle." All the
puppets were delighted at being saved. Giovanni asked Pinocchio to tell him
the whole tale, and feeling sorry for kindhearted Geppetto, he gave the puppet
five gold pieces.
"Take these to your father," he said. "Tell him to buy himself a new coat,
and give him my regards."
Pinocchio cheerfully left the puppet booth after thanking Giovanni for
being so generous. He was hurrying homewards when he met a half-blind cat and
a lame fox. He couldn't help but tell them all about his good fortune, and when
the pair set eyes on the gold coins, they hatched a plot, saying to Pinocchio:
"If you would really like to please your father, you ought to take him a
lot more coins. Now, we know of a magic meadow where you can sow these five
coins. The next day, you will find they have become ten times as many!"
"How can that happen?" asked Pinocchio in amazement.
"I'll tell you how!" exclaimed the fox. "In the land of Owls lies a meadow
known as Miracle Meadow. If you plant one gold coin in a little hole, next day
you will find a whole tree dripping with gold coins!" Pinocchio drank in every
word his two "friends" uttered and off they all went to the Red Shrimp Inn to
drink to their meeting and future wealth.
After food and a short rest, they made plans to leave at midnight for
Miracle Meadow. However, when Pinocchio was wakened by the innkeeper at the
time arranged, he found that the fox and the cat had already left. All the
puppet could do then was pay for the dinner, using one of his gold coins, and
set off alone along the path through the woods to the magic meadow.
Suddenly... "Your money or your life!" snarled two hooded bandits. Now,
Pinocchio had hidden the coins under his tongue, so he could not say a word,
and nothing the bandits could do would make Pinocchio tell where the coins
were hidden. Still mute, even when the wicked pair tied a noose round the poor
puppet's neck and pulled it tighter and tighter, Pinocchio's last thought was
"Father, help me!"
Of course, the hooded bandits were the fox and the cat. "You'll hang
there," they said, "till you decide to talk. We'll be back soon to see if you
have changed your mind!" And away they went.
However, a fairy who lived nearby had overheard everything . . . From the
castle window, the Turquoise Fairy saw a kicking puppet dangling from an oak
tree in the wood. Taking pity on him, she clapped her hands three times and
suddenly a hawk and a dog appeared.
"Quickly!" said the fairy to the hawk. "Fly to that oak tree and with your
beak snip away the rope round the poor lad's neck!"
To the dog she said: "Fetch the carriage and gently bring him to me!"
In no time at all, Pinocchio, looking quite dead, was lying in a cozy bed
in the castle, while the fairy called three famous doctors, crow, owl and
cricket. A very bitter medicine, prescribed by these three doctors quickly
cured the puppet, then as she caressed him, the fairy said: "Tell me what
Pinocchio told her his story, leaving out the bit about selling his first
reading book, but when the fairy asked him where the gold coins were, the
puppet replied that he had lost them. In fact, they were hidden in one of his
pockets. All at once, Pinocchio's nose began to stretch, while the fairy
"You've just told a lie! I know you have, because your nose is growing
longer!" Blushing with shame, Pinocchio had no idea what to do with such an
ungainly nose and he began to weep. However, again feeling sorry for him, the
fairy clapped her hands and a flock of woodpeckers appeared to peck his nose
back to its proper length.
"Now, don't tell any more lies," the fairy warned him," or your nose will
grow again! Go home and take these coins to your father."
Pinocchio gratefully hugged the fairy and ran off homewards. But near the
oak tree in the forest, he bumped into the cat and the fox. Breaking his
promise, he foolishly let himself be talked into burying the coins in the
magic meadow. Full of hope, he returned next day, but the coins had gone.
Pinocchio sadly trudged home without the coins Giovanni had given him for his
After scolding the puppet for his long absence, Geppetto forgave him and
off he went to school. Pinocchio seemed to have calmed down a bit. But someone
else was about to cross his path and lead him astray. This time, it was Carlo,
the lazy bones of the class.
"Why don't you come to Toyland with me?" he said. "Nobody ever studies
there and you can play all day long!"
"Does such a place really exist?" asked Pinocchio in amazement.
"The wagon comes by this evening to take me there," said Carlo. "Would you
like to come?"
Forgetting all his promises to his father and the fairy, Pinocchio was
again heading for trouble. Midnight struck, and the wagon arrived to pick up
the two friends, along with some other lads who could hardly wait to reach a
place where schoolbooks and teachers had never been heard of. Twelve pairs of
donkeys pulled the wagon, and they were all shod with white leather boots. The
boys clambered into the wagon. Pinocchio, the most excited of them all, jumped
on to a donkey. Toyland, here we come!
Now Toyland was just as Carlo had described it: the boys all had great fun
and there were no lessons. You weren't even allowed to whisper the word
"school", and Pinocchio could hardly believe he was able to play all the time.
"This is the life!" he said each time he met Carlo.
"I was right, wasn't I?" exclaimed his friend, pleased with himself.
"Oh, yes Carlo! Thanks to you I'm enjoying myself. And just think: teacher
told me to keep well away from you."
One day, however, Pinocchio awoke to a nasty surprise. When he raised a
hand to his head, he found he had sprouted a long pair of hairy ears, in place
of the sketchy ears that Geppetto had never got round to finishing. And that
wasn't all! The next day, they had grown longer than ever. Pinocchio
shamefully pulled on a large cotton cap and went off to search for Carlo. He
too was wearing a hat, pulled right down to his nose. With the same thought in
their heads, the boys stared at each other, then snatching off their hats,
they began to laugh at the funny sight of long hairy ears. But as they
screamed with laughter, Carlo suddenly went pale and began to stagger.
"Pinocchio, help! Help!" But Pinocchio himself was stumbling about and he
burst into tears. For their faces were growing into the shape of a donkey's
head and they felt themselves go down on all fours. Pinocchio and Carlo were
turning into a pair of donkeys. And when they tried to groan with fear, they
brayed loudly instead. When the Toyland wagon driver heard the braying of his
new donkeys, he rubbed his hands in glee.
"There are two fine new donkeys to take to market. I'll get at least four
gold pieces for them!" For such was the awful fate that awaited naughty little
boys that played truant from school to spend all their time playing games.
Carlo was sold to a farmer, and a circus man bought Pinocchio to teach him
to do tricks like his other performing animals. It was a hard life for a
donkey! Nothing to eat but hay, and when that was gone, nothing but straw. And
the beatings! Pinocchio was beaten every day till he had mastered the
difficult circus tricks. One day, as he was jumping through the hoop, he
stumbled and went lame. The circus man called the stable boy.
"A lame donkey is no use to me," he said. "Take it to market and get rid of
it at any price!" But nobody wanted to buy a useless donkey. Then along came a
little man who said: "I'll take it for the skin. It will make a good drum for
the village band!"
And so, for a few pennies, Pinocchio changed hands and he brayed
sorrowfully when he heard what his awful fate was to be. The puppet's new
owner led him to the edge of the sea, tied a large stone to his neck, and a
long rope round Pinocchio's legs and pushed him into the water. Clutching the
end of the rope, the man sat down to wait for Pinocchio to drown. Then he
would flay off the donkey's skin.
Pinocchio struggled for breath at the bottom of the sea, and in a flash,
remembered all the bother he had given Geppetto, his broken promises too, and
he called on the fairy.
The fairy heard Pinocchio's call and when she saw he was about to drown,
she sent a shoal of big fish. They ate away all the donkey flesh, leaving the
wooden Pinocchio. Just then, as the fish stopped nibbling, Pinocchio felt
himself hauled out of the water. And the man gaped in astonishment at the
living puppet, twisting and turning like an eel, which appeared in place of
the dead donkey. When he recovered his wits, he babbled, almost in tears:
"Where's the donkey I threw into the sea?"
"I'm that donkey", giggled Pinocchio.
"You!" gasped the man. "Don't try pulling my leg. If I get angry . . ."
However, Pinocchio told the man the whole story . . . "and that's how you
come to have a live puppet on the end of the rope instead of a dead donkey!"
"I don't give a whit for your story," shouted the man in a rage. "All I
know is that I paid twenty coins for you and I want my money back! Since
there's no donkey, I'll take you to market and sell you as firewood!"
By then free of the rope, Pinocchio made a face at the man and dived into
the sea. Thankful to be a wooden puppet again, Pinocchio swam happily out to
sea and was soon just a dot on the horizon. But his adventures were far from
over. Out of the water behind him loomed a terrible giant shark! A horrified
Pinocchio saw its wide open jaws and tried to swim away as fast as he could,
but the monster only glided closer. Then the puppet tried to escape by going
in the other direction, but in vain. He could never escape the shark, for as
the water rushed into its cavern-like mouth, he was sucked in with it. And in
an instant Pinocchio had been swallowed along with shoals of fish unlucky
enough to be in the fierce creature's path. Down he went, tossed in the
torrent of water as it poured down the shark's throat, till he felt dizzy. When
Pinocchio came to his senses, he was in darkness. Over his head, he could hear
the loud heave of the shark's gills. On his hands and knees, the puppet crept
down what felt like a sloping path, crying as he went:
"Help! Help! Won't anybody save me?"
Suddenly, he noticed a pale light and, as he crept towards it, he saw it
was a flame in the distance. On he went, till: "Father! It can't be you! . . ."
"Pinocchio! Son! It really is you . . ."
Weeping for joy, they hugged each other and, between sobs, told their
adventures. Geppetto stroked the puppet's head and told him how he came to be
in the shark's stomach.
"I was looking for you everywhere. When I couldn't find you on dry land, I
made a boat to search for you on the sea. But the boat capsized in a storm,
then the shark gulped me down. Luckily, it also swallowed bits of ships
wrecked in the tempest, so I've managed to survive by getting what I could
"Well, we're still alive!" remarked Pinocchio, when they had finished
recounting their adventures. "We must get out of here!" Taking Geppetto's hand,
the pair started to climb up the shark's stomach, using a candle to light their
way. When they got as far as its jaws, they took fright, but as so happened,
this shark slept with its mouth open, for it suffered from asthma.
As luck would have it, the shark had been basking in shallow waters since
the day before, and Pinocchio soon reached the beach. Dawn was just breaking,
and Geppetto, soaked to the skin, was half dead with cold and fright.
"Lean on me, father." said Pinocchio. "I don't know where we are, but we'll
soon find our way home!"
Beside the sands stood an old hut made of branches, and there they took
shelter. Geppetto was running a temperature, but Pinocchio went out, saying,
"I'm going to get you some milk." The bleating of goats led the puppet in the
right direction, and he soon came upon a farmer. Of course, he had no money to
pay for the milk.
"My donkey's dead," said the farmer. "If you work the treadmill from dawn
to noon, then you can have some milk." And so, for days on end, Pinocchio rose
early each morning to earn Geppetto's food.
At long last, Pinocchio and Geppetto reached home. The puppet worked late
into the night weaving reed baskets to make money for his father and himself.
One day, he heard that the fairy after a wave of bad luck, was ill in
hospital. So instead of buying himself a new suit of clothes, Pinocchio sent
the fairy the money to pay for her treatment.
One night, in a wonderful dream, the fairy appeared to reward Pinocchio for
his kindness. When the puppet looked in the mirror next morning, he found he
had turned into somebody else. For there in the mirror, was a handsome young
lad with blue eyes and brown hair. Geppetto hugged him happily.
"Where's the old wooden Pinocchio?" the young lad asked in astonishment.
"There!" exclaimed Geppetto, pointing at him. "When bad boys become good,
their looks change along with their lives!"