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 puppet.
“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!” Geppeto 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 father.
“I’ll box your ears,” gasped Geppetto, still out of breath. Then he realised 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 apologised 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 man.
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 coloured 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 weent 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 it later!”
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 cosy 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 happened!”
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 laughed.
“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 father.
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 foursf. 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 hlm 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 sawits 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 dizy. 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. Lucklly, it also swallowed bits of ships wrecked in the tempest, so I’ve managed to survive by gettlng what I could from these!”
“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!”