Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland should be at the top of any reading list. It would seem that Pinocchio is the most popular book that has ever been written – it’s been translated into more languages than the Bible. I would put it at the top of any reading list – I think it’s so brilliant!
Once upon a time there was…
‘A king!’ my little readers will say straight away.
No, children, you are mistaken.
Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.
It’s just great. And remember the person who wrote it, Carlo Collodi, was a theatre critic. Pinocchio is so dramatic as a story that for anyone wishing to be a writer it’s an absolute model of literature.
Now then, the circumstances under which this was written: Carlo Collodi was the eldest of 10 children, only five of whom lived past infancy. His mother did washing for the local Duke. The Duke noticed this boy and how clever he was and he educated him.
Collodi became a member of the Risorgimento, the movement in Italy that was trying to unify all the little petty kingdoms and principalities and to have a national identity and a country. This all happened in the mid 19th century (1815-1871). The challenge was that most of the people at the time were peasants – they couldn’t read and write. The Risorgimento was going to create a republic – putting the people in power – that was their idea. In fact, they put the king in power – but the people needed educating. They launched a children’s newspaper to educate children and Pinocchio was serialised in 1881 as the first story for kids. It was so popular that it became a book in 1883.
I’ll just say that the Adventures of Pinocchio is a guide for living. It’s a philosophy for life – a way to live. It’s a terribly exciting book. Pinocchio is the most wonderful character you’ll ever meet. He’s so naughty but he’s got a heart of gold and that’s what saves him. It’s just wonderful, anyway.
Pinocchio is very useful as one of the travellers in the Manifesto because we’ve got him after the book – what once was a wooden puppet has now become a real boy. He’s now more clever than he used to be – he’s learning and, of course, he wants to learn. And he’s decided he wants to be a freedom fighter. That is what his creator, Carlo Collodi, was. It’s very interesting because Pinocchio is very cheeky – just like some of you lot and I just think that we can really empathise with him and what he finds important on his travels. He’s a very good vehicle for you to see an awful lot as you go through the Manifesto.
Next time, I’ll talk to you a bit about our other traveller, Alice.