Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo

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Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: This telling of the story is perhaps more immediate than others, but does not gain much that the original lacked.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780007339693

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It is a simple fact that too many of us have neglected to read all the classics. It strikes me that when a film version of one of them enters the canon as strongly as Disney's Pinocchio animation did, it becomes less an impetus to read the original, more of an excuse to not do so. I'm very happy then that the powerfully popular name of Michael Morpurgo is rectifying that with his latest hardback. I'm less convinced by how or why he's gone about it.

What we have, more or less, is a straightforward new version of the Collodi original, with the added twist that it's narrated in the first person. Here an older Pinocchio looks back on his errant childhood, and all his problems are brought to the fore – his wilful attempts to always run away and find a better life without working, the greed and simple-mindedness that leads him to fall prey to tricksters, his errant failure to repay anyone's trust or honour any promises to anyone.

But that's in the original – and that will always be the delight of the original, to see quite a lot of morals and aphorisms delivered in such a nice way; that and the fact that Collodi actually had far more talking animals that Disney ever dreamt of. Every beat of the original is replicated here, apart I think from Gepetto's friend at the beginning. There is certainly a case for saying that the immediacy of the first person narration will aid in getting the story across, and we do gain the 'other', modern time Pinocchio looking back on his story, talking about how it became a film, and admitting he was a fool. But a slip in printing where we get a short paragraph in the third person suggests Morpurgo was actually at one time just intending a straight translation of his own, and all power to his elbow I don't think he's varied the content enough to really justify his change.

What's more, with a fine translation such as that by Geoffrey Brock you don't need anything to be made more immediate or overt – the writing is fresh enough and clear enough. Plus, you don't get modern colloquialisms such as here. I gave up counting the number of times this Pinocchio legged it, lickety-spit or otherwise. I was waiting for one of the famous characters to rock up, and for him to be across story.

Still, I will admit that in getting the name Pinocchio back into everyone's thoughts it might have been necessary to add Morpurgo's name to that of Collodi. You can also add that of Emma Chichester Clark, for her work is great – nicely painted scenes, with what I guess are pencilled or crayoned characters and collaged tree textures and fabric patterned birds overlain. But I go back to my hope that the original creator was enough, and say again that really this isn't the most necessary edition ever. Just as Ms Clark's image of the policeman poised to nab Pinocchio looked far too similar to that in the Brock, so this does not go far enough in its changes. My edition is Pinocchio by Pinocchio on the paper cover, and just Pinocchio on the hardback within. Proof, I think, that for all his work and cleverness, Morpurgo has not altered the contents as much as he was able.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy of this book, which remains a classic, in whichever edition you choose.

Sara Fanelli has also offered up a version we enjoyed.

Buy Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo at Amazon.com.


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