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Pinocchio, the Boy, or Incognito in Collodi

by Lane Smith

Published by Viking, 2002
40 pages
ISBN: 0-670-03585-8

Ages 6 - 10

Pinocchio became a real boy, and they all lived happily ever after ... right? Wrong. Innovator Lane Smith picks up Pinocchio's tale where author Carlo Collodi left off, and inserts a critical plot twist: Pinocchio doesn't realize he's a boy because the "nutty fairy had changed him while he was asleep." Geppetto is confined to his bed with the ill effects of internal whale travel, and Pinocchio helpfully sets off to town in search of medicinal chicken soup. In an attempt to earn money for the soup, Pinocchio tries a shtick that worked for him in the past, dancing as a marionette puppet in the theater, and is bewildered when the audience throws him off the stage. A stint as a department store mannequin fails as well. To add insult to injury, his Cricket, so very helpful in past moments of crisis, doesn't recognize the new human version of his old friend. A chance encounter with a bossy girl earns him a street-savvy friend who tags after him openly commenting on Pinocchio's far-fetched stories ("Talking bugs? A long nose?" ... "What will you think of next?"). Just when he's at his lowest, Pinocchio catches sight of Geppetto, broadcast live on a big-screen TV in the city center, talking to a reporter about his son's disappearance ("he's about so high ... red cap ... red boots") and begging Pinocchio to come home. All the story lines are neatly tied together as Pinocchio finally discovers his human self, and his new friend is revealed as the daughter of the well-intentioned but blundering Blue Fairy. The wintry mixed-media illustrations, perfected in a retro style, ideally complement this comic take on a familiar melodrama. CCBC Categories: Picture Books for Older Children.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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