cover image Pinocchio


Kate McMullan, illus. by Pascal Lemaitre. Holt/Ottaviano, $12.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9699-6

In this first title of the Cartoon Classics series, McMullan (the Myth-o-Mania series) and Lemaitre (A Pet Named Sneaker) bring Carlo Collodi’s classic story to a chapter-book audience. McMullan hews to both the plot and serialized origins of the source material, so that the 36 brief chapters often read like standalone episodes in Pinocchio’s quest to becoming a boy. Readers used to the Disney version of the story may be surprised by some of its violent moments: Pinocchio throws a wooden hammer at Cricket early on, killing him (he later magically resurrects), and bites off the paw of Cat, one of the two “murderers”; Blue Fairy dies of a broken heart after Pinocchio goes astray (she, too, resurrects). Done in Lemaitre’s characteristic scraggly line, the two-color spot cartoons and sequential panels serve only as accompaniments to McMullan’s prose, shouldering little storytelling duty. But they are full of energy, and Lemaitre gamely tackles the story’s grimmer moments, balancing them with comic triumphs. McMullan embraces Pinocchio’s stubbornness and selfishness, making his redemption that much more rewarding. Ages 7–10. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Nov.)