Fairytale Retellings & Prompts: Pinocchio

This month we’re doing a series called the A-Z blogging challenge where we dive into Fairytale Retellings and provide prompts for writers. Writers are the people making the books, television shows, and movies of tomorrow. For more information on the challenge check out my earlier post here.

The New Yorker states: But in Carlo Collodi’s “The Adventures of Pinocchio” (serialized in 1881-1883)—the original text for the Walt Disney adaptation—Pinocchio, unlike Rousseau’s ideal of the child, is created naughty. In fact he’s badly behaved even before he’s created: while still a stick of wood, he starts a fight between Geppetto and his owner, and once he is a marionette he immediately wreaks all kinds of havoc: he insults Geppetto as soon as he has a mouth, laughs at him, runs away from him, etc.

He behaves, in short, like a fairly typical two-year-old when the two-year-old is misbehaving. Collodi seems to have had Rousseau in mind. When the wise hundred-year-old cricket asks Pinocchio why he wants to run away from home, Pinocchio tells him: “I shall be sent to school and shall be made to study either by love or by force. To tell you in confidence, I have no wish to learn; it is much more amusing to run after butterflies, or to climb trees and to take young birds out of their nests.”

Contra Rousseau, Collodi thinks that a young boy who does not undergo a traditional education will get only naughtier and will “grow up a perfect donkey” (as the cricket warns—and prophesizes—Pinocchio does indeed later become a donkey).

The first real lie in the story is not told by Pinocchio, who does, however, repeat various fanciful inaccuracies almost as soon as he can speak, but by Geppetto, who sells his coat in order to buy Pinocchio a schoolbook and lies to the boy, telling him that he sold it “Because I found it too hot.” (This is a classic example of a paternalistic lie told with good intentions, of which both a Buddhist and perhaps even Plato would have approved.)

Interestingly, Pinocchio understands what his maker has really done, “and unable to restrain the impulse of his good heart he sprang up, and throwing his arms around Geppetto’s neck he began kissing him again and again.”

So Pinocchio does have a good heart and enough intelligence to understand that though Geppetto has lied to him, he’s done it out of kindness. It’s simply that Pinocchio likes to misbehave, and he hasn’t learned the ways of the world yet. When the fox and the cat come along, he is easily led into temptation.

Prompt: when has a lie or a temptation ever gotten you in trouble? How would you re-tell the story of Pinocchio?

For more blogs participating in A to Z 2020 click the link here.


T.S. Valmond is the science fiction and young adult fantasy author of The Bolaji Kingdoms Series and The Verity Chronicles. As an award-winning poet, world traveler, and sign language interpreter she uses her experiences to fuel her stories. She’s a regular contributor to the website and founder of the Riders & Flyers group.


  1. What an interesting read… I didn’t know about the early adaption. I bought an earlier older book but gave yo my daughter in law as it’s her favorite.

  2. I liked reading Pinocchio when I was little, but as an adult I don’t really care for it anymore. I would definitely retell a “created child” folktale of some sort though. There is one where a girl is made from a mushroom…

    The Multicolored Diary

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