Pinocchio plays pranks upon the kindly woodcarver Geppetto, is duped by the Fox and the Cat, kills the pedantic Talking Cricket, and narrowly escapes death, with the help of the blue-haired Fairy. A wooden puppet without strings, Pinocchio is a tragicomic figure, a poor, illiterate, naughty peasant boy who has few choices in life but usually chooses to shirk his responsibilities and get into trouble. This sly and imaginative novel, alternately catastrophic and ridiculous, takes Pinocchio from one predicament to the next, and finally to an optimistic, if uncertain, ending. In his compelling introduction, Jack Zipes places Pinocchio within the traditions of the oral folk tale and the literary fairy tale, showing how Collodi subverts those traditions while raising questions about "how we 'civilize' children in uncivilized times."
McEwan's version of the classic tale is not only graphically arresting, it's fairly true to Collodi's original serial. Without sentimentality, the wildly inventive story of the bad boy turned good has been retold in simple, readable language. Though the book generally employs traditional format--with illustrations that occupy most of the page and few lines of text--many pages of its unusual layout contain dauntingly large amounts of copy. Reminiscent of Japanese cartoon art of the 1960s, McEwan's illustrations are eye-catching and imaginative. His least complicated drawings and those that decorate the borders of each page are the most appealing, as others tend to be crammed with so many colorful elements that specifics are hard to discern. And, though they have little to do with Pinocchio, the book's gorgeous, tricolored endpapers are a compelling invitation to the visual delights within. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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June 17, 2007
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