{book} wooden bones

on

wooden bones coverWooden Bones by Scott William Carter

Simon & Schuster, 2012.

hardcover, 148 pages. juvenile fiction ages 8-12.

of note: my link to Powell’s shares a synopsis with Goodreads that is a bit of a spoiler. I was happy to pick this up off the shelf with the below copy to intrigue without given “oh, no” moments away.

“Becoming a real boy was just the beginning…”

Pino thought that all of his wishes had come true. Since he changed into a real boy, he has been content with the simple quiet life he leads with his father, Geppetto. But the boy who used to be a wooden puppet doesn’t quite fit in with the other villagers. When Pino discovers a terrifying new talent for bringing wood to life, he and Geppetto find themselves fleeing from an angry mob.

On the run with a wounded Geppetto, Pino must face a world full of people who want to use—or misuse—him for his powers. But when Pino discovers that every time he uses his mage, he is slowly transforming back into a puppet, he as to make the most important choice of his life.

Scott William Carter breathes new life into an old story and explores what it means to be truly human.—Jacket copy.

I adore fairy tales, but I am not a fan of Pinnochio (my own childhood issues). So I am not entirely sure why I took this one home from the Library to read other than that jacket copy and it was a slim volume. I’m glad I did. Scott William Carter not only carries the spirit of the characters through, but he holds true to the spirit/feel of the fairy tale.

There are some monstrous creatures and wondrous places. The peril is breathtaking for a juvenile fiction—and carried forth with less ego than Adam Gidwitz’s effort to (re)introduce children to Grimm. The adventure compounds, with a respite that tests the pacing, but Carter merely wants us to believe in the potential of a happy ending. oh, dear.

The story of Pino’s change, of who he is or even why he is, seems to move in the shadows of the survival-adventure, but it is an important thread that contributes to that difficult ending. And by difficult I mean that I was not sure how things were going to go—at all. There is much to do with identity in the vein of: what is meant, how things work out, and no matter how difficult it may be to understand some thing’s should not be changed/reversed—including Pinnochio himself. Loss is a recurrent visitor and an inescapable theme the reader must consider on some level. Wooden Bones has some very rich aspects to it that one can appreciate in the hands of a storyteller rather than a preacher.

The narrative is a third person limited with the odd (and only) “you” address to the readers on page 22, otherwise so smooth. I like how Scott William Carter creates symbols out of objects and haunts the novel with them (must be a short story writer). Understanding how Pino would use wood in descriptive terms is lovely. I adore the misdirections. I loved how completely absorbed I became and how moved by so many of the characters, their dangerous flaws and all. The imagination that Carter is able to translate is worth the while (that woods section, and the scar…) Wooden Bones is a wonderful find and one that not only fans of fairytales will truly appreciate.

recommendations: any and all, but probably above 8, older if sensitive. it does have the classic tale feel/elements so that is something to mind. lovers of tales, adventures, and/or wood [carpenters/carvers will find this read delightful].

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Carl V. says:

    I remember really liking the cover art on this one when it first started popping up online but I honestly hadn’t considered reading it because I have no particular fondness for the Pinnochio mythology. However, you are doing your usual bang-up sales job and now I am at least interested in considering this. I do like a good fairy tale retelling.

    Not sure if you’ve popped over to SF Signal from the link in my post today or not but you and N might like the novella I reviewed over there yesterday, The Legend of Ellie Quin. I’m reading the second volume right now and it has continued to be a really good read.

    1. L says:

      I will make note of that novella, Carl, thank you!

      I have no real fondness for Pinocchio either, much of it to do with how annoying I find Gepetto, and Jimney, and… but Carter has turned my head considerably (and there is not one mention of a cricket). I wouldn’t say it’s a ‘quick’ read, but it is fairly short when you happen across it in the right mood.

      1. Carl V. says:

        That’s where you’ve really touched on it. This looks like a “mood” book to me. I don’t know if you find it that way or not but more often than not I’ll read reviews and thinkg “yes, that is one I am really dying to read…not sure when I’ll get to it but….” However, there are times like this one where the book sounds compelling and the review is intriguing and it really does feel like a book I would never go out of my way to pick up but could see the mood suddenly striking when I’m in the bookstore or library and then off I would be devouring it in a single sitting and wondering why I ever doubted.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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