Pinocchio - The Best Illustrated Children's Edition

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Surprise, surprise.

Pinocchio illustrated by Roberto Innocenti front cover
You decide to search for the best unabridged and illustrated (non-Disney) version of Carlo Collodi's classic The Adventures of Pinocchio.

How difficult can it be? I mean, its Pinocchio!

How much time do you need to find a great edition of the puppet boy?

Five minutes? Thirty minutes? Five hours?

Well, five minutes was my original guess as well.

Guess again.
This is one of those children's classics that I almost gave up on, after browsing for days and feeling that I was getting nowhere.

But let me make a digression here.

Namely, I did mention in one of my earlier posts that I always look for nicely illustrated, hardcover unabridged editions of the most important children's classics for my twins.

I want these cornerstone books to be really memorable for my kids.

Roberto Innocenti's Pinocchio
Speaking of memorable books, before we go any further I need to tell you about my Disney policy.

I avoid Disney for the time being.

This doesn't mean I don't have Disney in the house - but its not something I show to my kids regularly yet - they've seen some, but not very much.

I will leave it as a small treat for when they start learning to read, not as the main dish of our read-aloud sessions.

I really want is for my kids to get to know the Disney versions of stories only after they read/hear the unabridged original stories - be it Pinocchio, 101 Dalmatians, Bambi, Peter Pan, you name it.

Roberto Innocenti's Pinocchio
But I'm going off track.

What am I looking for in an ideal Pinocchio?

Here is my five-point test that must be passed for a book to be shortlisted. My ideal Pinocchio is:

1. Hardcover

2. Unabridged - a translation of the original text. (Not a synthesized, easy reader, learn-to-read, edited or watered-down version). The best thing for your kids is to listen to the original version of most (all) books

3. Illustrated - nicely (also for children) if possible!

4. A big enough read-aloud edition (no pocket ones for me, please!)

5. The book and pages must catch my eye after I browse through it on Amazon or Google Reader!

I looked for all available options. I almost gave up.
Roberto Innocenti's Pinocchio

I thought to myself - if I can't find a true version of Collodi's Pinocchio that will floor my kids with its beauty, I will wait a couple of years and look again.

Like Humpty Dumpty, I was indecisive. I almost ordered the Sara Fanelli illustrated version of Pinocchio that looks smashing - but I gave up at the last moment.

Although it was innovative, daring ... I also suspected parents would enjoy Fanelli's effort more than kids.

Fanelli's original illustrations are full of life, but I was afraid that her two-dimensional Pinocchio would fail to capture the "hearts and minds" my little troops.

Her illustrations are a mix of collage and ink - daring, original and novel.

But maybe too experimental for my kids who want illustrations to help them comprehend the story easier.

I went back and looked again at one of the best designed and illustrated options (The Adventures of Pinocchio, published by Creative Editions) available.

It was an option I initially discarded and .... I realized it was my ideal choice all along.

Originally, I had set it aside for two reasons: the cover looked a bit dark and there was a controversial illustration inside - according to several online reviewers.

Sara Fanelli's Pinocchio
Namely, one of the reviews I read mentioned a scene in which Pinocchio is hanging from the tree. I thought - maybe this is not for us.

I was wrong on both counts.

The illustrations that I have seen by Roberto Innocenti are simply breathtaking. When I looked inside all I saw was art, art and beauty.

Innocenti is an artist from Florence who was awarded the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award for contributions to children's literature.

He is a self-taught illustrator who - if I remember well - started off in life by working in a steel mill. His other illustrated books are are apparently a treat as well.

Roberto Innocenti's Pinocchio
As regards the scene in which Pinocchio hangs from a tree - I mention it solely as some parents may not like the fact that it even exists.

It depicts an event from Collodi's narrative - but don't forget the original Pinocchio is much more complex than the Disney version that we are all used to see.

Nevertheless, the scene is not so dramatic, at least in my opinion, that it deserves to disqualify the book.

Furthermore, the discerning read-aloud parent may choose to skip the illustration until the kids are big enough.

Anyhow, I believe that kids should not be exposed only to sugary versions of life, good books such as Pinocchio are there for a purpose - to share some lessons and allow their fantasy to fly.

To take a little bad with the good.

After much soul-searching I finally recognized what I was looking for all this time. Indeed, a gem of a book.

I ordered Innocenti's entrancing version of Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio.

Now that you know my favourite version of Pinocchio, I'd love to know what is yours?


I will be reviewing the book when it comes to the top of our read-aloud pile... in a a year or more.

P.S. 2

Find more books illustrated by Roberto Innocenti. They are irresistible. (tip: don't forget to browse inside Innocenti's early 20th century version of Cinderella - its simply smashing!)

Roberto Innocenti's illustrated Pinocchio is available from booksellers in the US and other countries:

Or check out an Audible audio edition of Pinocchio (unabridged):



    1. Hello, and thanks for this.

      I am surprised no one mentioned Robert Ingpen's version. How does it compare to Innocenti's?

    2. Hi Howie,

      Great question! Robert Ingpen's version ( is certainly a popular choice!

      Ingpen is a giant in the field of children's book illustrations and I am so happy that you posed that question. .

      The reason why I did not include his version is simple - I am not one of the biggest fans of Ingpen's illustrations (they just don't work that well for me personally).

      However, Ingpen's Pinocchio is certainly a richly illustrated version that every parent should look at before making a final choice - thanks for that great reminder!

      Read Aloud Dad

      Re: @986ec48776624298507cd42fa8b0be74:disqus

    3. I wish I had stumbled across your blog sooner! It would have saved me months of searching on-and-off for the best Pinocchio! We have pretty much the same criteria - I was also looking for a hardcover, illustrated, unabridged version with an easy-to-read font size. That's not asking for too much, is it? Anyway, I just put this book in my Amazon cart. My daughter will be delighted! And I am off to look at the rest of your recommendations!

      Thanks a lot!

    4. I just realised I've failed as a parent as the story of Pinocchio doesn't exist in my children's library. Thanks to stumbling on to your blog post quickly into my quest for a Pinocchio book, I'm now able to look my children in the eye without the guilt of failure (well until the next oversight is discovered).

    5. I love your blog. Have been buying a lot of the books tha you recommended.
      Always looking forward to the deliveries and loving every single one!
      Here is a blog that I found today that has the illustrations from this book
      It also has the Cinderella that was mentioned in your blog.
      Sharing because I thought it was a great find.

    6. Hello For a simple step-by-step program that can help your kid learn to read visit this site: read learning
      I found it very interesting Bye

    7. Hi Anna,

      Thanks for your comment! As you say, finding a hardcover, illustrated, unabridged version with easy-to-read font size shouldn't be as difficult as it is in real life!

      For many books - alas - we have to settle for less than optimal. Fortunately, this isn't one of them!

      Hope you enjoyed it!

      Read Aloud Dad

    8. Hi Chris,

      Your comment made me chuckle (even with the time delay)!

      As the world of KidLit is seemingly larger than the universe and growing at a faster rate than the universe is expanding, I have abandoned all hope of being able to look my children in the eye without guilt of failure!

      Thanks for making my day! :-)

      Read Aloud Dad

    9. I just found your page thanks to Anita and her Book-A-Day almanac. As a storyteller and a lover of children's book your recommendations and your comments are outstanding! I like Anna wish I had found your blog a long time ago! Thank you for taking the time to honor children's books, not just the new publications but the time worn wonderful classics!