Carlos Collodi's age-old Pinocchio story about the carver Geppetto's wooden puppet who comes to life is a bit unbelievable. Former puppet Pinocchio learns that the hard way when he hits the streets of Collodi in his new life as a flesh-and-blood boy in Lane Smith's thoroughly hip Pinocchio the Boy or Incognito in Collodi.
Smith, innovative illustrator of Jon Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Stories and at least 20 more books, picks up the Pinocchio story from the moment the puppet's wish is granted and he wakes up as a boy. The trouble is, the Blue Fairy grants his wish while he's sleeping--and then forgets to tell him! So the next day Pinocchio is very confused indeed when he heads out into the wintry day to get some chicken soup for feverish Geppetto and finds that his good friend the cricket won't even speak to him. On his way he encounters a girl who thinks the boy is very odd indeed, carrying on about talking bugs, growing noses, and a dad who's home sick after spending the night in a fish. As she says, "your other stories were hard enough to swallow, I wouldn't push it with that in-a-fish sleepover stuff."
To make a long story short, the skeptical girl's mother turns out to be the Blue Fairy, Geppetto is excited that his puppet son is a real live boy, and they all go ice skating at Collodi Rink. Smith's clever collage art--arranged in inventive comic-strip-style panels by designer Molly Leach--casts a modern new light on this sawdusty old tale. (Ages 6 and older) --Karin Snelson [via]