Florence, Italy: Suppose The Nose of Pinocchio Grows …..and Shows?!

With special thanks to Slice of Life for giving writers inspiration, space, and voice

Slice of Life Day 19 of 31: Journeys

With Pinocchio, Florence, Italy, June 2019

I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of children’s literature to shape character and teach values. As a child, I was curious about those “bad troublemaker” characters and wondered what fate would befall them, and I evolved into a page turner with an insatiable desire to see how other people’s situations play out on the pages of books. Today’s efforts to ban books will, no doubt, prove a classic tale of be careful what you wish for – – you might just get it. And the unintended consequences that those pushing for bans never considered. When we take away books that allow children to learn through the stories of fictional characters, they will learn through the nonfiction stories and mistakes of their own.

But what bothers me almost as much is that the logic of this war on books doesn’t add up. I think of The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi as a prime example of secular literature that shares similarities with the Biblical story of Jonah. Both Pinocchio and Jonah found redemption in the belly of a whale. Both were having trouble listening and obeying (a prime reason that people want to ban any book these days – -because <dun dun dun> someone wasn’t being a “perfect Christian”). The radical banning clan is quick to want to erase secular books like Pinocchio for disobeying Gepetto, yet quick to validate the consequences of disobeying that Jonah suffered by not going straight over to Ninevah.

I mourn the loss of classic literature and its threatened extinction from childhoods of today. The common threads of literature throughout the world carry similar messages and common values in different settings and stories – there are Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood stories in almost every culture of the world. Books teach lessons and build character, and they offer readers a glimpse into the troubles of the world that might be avoided by learning from characters who just might offer a child a voice of reason he hears more clearly than that of his parents.

Books reinforce values and teach lessons that we cannot possibly teach. We should expect that the nose of Pinocchio grows – – and as it does, we should suppose that the nose of Pinocchio shows.

The Duomo, Florence, Italy – June 2019
Travel Journal from Europe – June 2019 – it’s my story, and I hope it never gets erased.

Jonah 1:17

Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

4 Replies to “Florence, Italy: Suppose The Nose of Pinocchio Grows …..and Shows?!”

  1. You are preaching to the choir here, Kim… I was just having a discussion about this with colleagues. The book banning…once it begins, where does it end? What are we actually destroying? So much is driven by ignorance. Cautionary tales would seem to be needed more than ever. Dear old PInocchio, who learned the hard way – the comparison to Jonah here is masterful, Kim. The theme of redemption is one of my favorites of all; can we not let people – children – have hope of overcoming mistakes, too? I grew up on Grimm. Too much to say about it here, other than we learn an awful lot about human behavior… I have to mention Harry Potter here, too. How many people who deem the books evil have read them? Do they know Scriptures are directly quoted in vital places, that the whole thing is based on sacrificial love, that even Harry is willing to sacrifice himself to save others (hmmm…where have we hard of that before?) – and back to that theme of redemption, in a word: Snape. “Books teach lessons and build character, and they offer readers a glimpse into the troubles of the world that might be avoided by learning from characters who just might offer a child a voice of reason he hears more clearly than that of his parents” – you nailed it. Love this whole reflection – save Pinocchio! And Little Red! – and the photos. The influence of place…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I kept a little sign over my desk at school for many years until retirement. It read: “It’s not logical. It’s just our policy.” That’s the mantra I attach to book banners and censors. It’s not really the books they want erased. It’s the people in those books and the writers of those books. The anti-book mob is not comprised of readers. They are followers of their Pied Piper. Readers don’t ban books. Readers want more books. No readers can’t see the value of books or the irony in their wanting to ban MAUS but not The Merchant of Venice or even the Bible, which they likely can’t and don’t read. It’s all so disgusting. Who censors the censors? That’s the question I always ask.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Totally agree! So many stories and morals (consequences) are found across cultures. A couple of years ago, I taught a (high school) literature class that consisted ONLY of books that had been banned. It allowed the students and I to discuss the connections – Why was this book banned? What was happening in society? Would it be banned today?

    Liked by 1 person

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