Once upon a time a poor carpenter picked up a piece of wood while fixing a table. When he began to chisel 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 his friend, Geppetto, who wanted to make a puppet.
Geppetto, a cobbler, took the 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 at his home, Geppetto started to carve the wood. Suddenly a voice squealed, “Oh! That hurt!”
Geppetto was astonished to find that the wood was alive. Excited, he carved a head, hair, and eyes, which immediately stared right at the cobbler. But the second Geppetto carved out the nose, it began to grow. No matter how often the cobbler cut it down to size, it just grew longer and longer.
When he finished carving the puppet, Geppetto taught him to walk. But the minute Pinocchio stood upright, he opened the door and ran into the street. Luckily, a policeman saw Pinocchio running from the cobbler. He grabbed the runaway and handed him over to his father.
Pinocchio apologized for running away, and Geppetto forgave his son. The cobbler made Pinocchio a suit out of colorful paper, a pair of tree-bark shoes, and a soft felt hat with a big feather. The puppet hugged his father.
“I'd like to go to school,” he said, “to become clever and help you when you're old!”
“I'm very grateful,” Geppetto replied, “but we haven't enough money to buy you even the first reading book!” Pinocchio looked sad, then Geppetto suddenly stood and went out of the house. Soon he returned carrying a first reading book, a little worn but still perfectly usable.
It was snowing outside. “Where's your coat, Father?” Pinocchio asked.
“I sold it.”
“Why did you sell it?”
“It kept me too warm!”
Pinocchio threw his arms round Geppetto's neck and kissed him.
The next day, Pinocchio started toward school, but was distracted when he heard the sound of a brass band. He ended up in a crowded square where people were clustering round a 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 book?” Pinocchio cried. A nearby junk seller bought the reading book, and Pinocchio hurried into the booth. Once inside the booth, Pinocchio knew he had made a mistake selling the book Geppetto had bought for him. He decided to return to his home and apologize to Geppetto.
Pinocchio sadly trudged home and told Geppetto that a bully had stolen his book. But as he spoke, something strange happened: His nose started to grow. And as he continued to insist the book had been stolen, his nose grew and grew.
“What is happening?” asked Pinocchio, alarmed.
“You're not telling the truth, Pinocchio,” answered Geppetto. “When you lie, your nose grows. If you tell me the truth, your nose will return to its normal size.”
So, Pinocchio told Geppetto what had happened to the book and his nose shrunk to its normal size. After scolding the puppet for selling the book, Geppetto forgave him and sent Pinocchio off to school.
But someone else was about to cross his path and lead him astray. This time, it was Carlo, an extremely lazy boy.
“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, 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 Toyland.
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 onto a donkey. Toyland was just as Carlo had described it: The boys all had fun and there was no school.
One day, however, Pinocchio awoke to a rather 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 around to finishing. The next day, they had grown longer than ever. Pinocchio 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 the 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 fours.
Pinocchio and Carlo were turning into donkeys. 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!” Carlo was sold to a farmer. A circus man bought Pinocchio, and he had to learn 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 of 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 was purchased. His new owner led him to the edge of the sea, tied a large stone to his neck, and a long rope round his legs, and pushed him into the water. Clutching the end of the rope, the man sat down to wait for Pinocchio to drown. Pinocchio struggled for breath at the bottom of the sea. In a flash, he remembered all the trouble he had given Geppetto and all his broken promises, too, and he called on a fairy to help him.
A fairy heard Pinocchio's call and sent a school 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. The man gasped in astonishment at the living puppet, which appeared in place of the dead donkey. Pinocchio told the man the whole story 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 shark with huge teeth! Pinocchio tried to swim away as fast as he could, but the shark glided closer and eventually swallowed him. When Pinocchio came to his senses, he was in darkness. Suddenly, he noticed a pale light and, as he crept toward it, he saw it was a flame in the distance.
“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 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, and then the shark ate me.”
“Well, we're still alive!” remarked Pinocchio. “We must get out of here!”
The pair started to climb up the shark's stomach, using a candle to light their way. This shark happened to sleep with its mouth open, so they quietly hurried out while it was napping.
At long last, Pinocchio and Geppetto reached home. Geppetto was so ill from his adventures that he was near death. Pinocchio took care of him until he recovered. He went to work for a nearby farmer to earn money to buy food for his father.
One night, in a wonderful dream, the fairy appeared to reward Pinocchio. When the puppet looked in the mirror next morning, he found he had turned into a real boy. Geppetto hugged him happily.
“Where's the wooden Pinocchio?” the boy asked.
“There!” exclaimed Geppetto, pointing at him. “You've shown you're a real boy with a real kind, giving heart.”