Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi’s peppy impish wooden puppet, must encounter many adventures before finally coming to his senses… But what must a plum pit endure before it can become a puppet? This adventurous and comic tale told by a talking plank recounts the winding and capricious life story of a plum pit given to escapades. Screenwriter, comic book creator and author, Vojtěch Mašek, exhibits a sense for lively, nearly theatrical, storytelling and returns absurdist humor and biting levity to the children’s literary scene. Abundant linocut illustrations and graphics by artist Chrudoš Valoušek are, as always, stunning.
CHAPTER ONE, IN WHICH LITTLE PETR
DOES NOT WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL,
TELLS A WHITE LIE ABOUT BEING SICK,
AND MEETS A TALKING LOG.
Once upon a time, a little boy named Petr did not want to go to school,
so he made up a story that his throat hurt. He stayed home
alone and when he went to the pantry to get some chocolate,
he tripped over a piece of wood. A little round log.
Log: Ow! Watch where you’re going!
Petr: You can talk?
Log: Of course I can talk.
What’s so strange about that?
Petr: You’re a log.
Log: Watch your mouth, boy.
Petr: Well, what are you?
Log: I’m a puppet.
Petr: You look like a log.
Log: Do you have to be so insensitive?
Petr: I’m sorry. But why do you look like a log
if you’re a puppet?
Log: It’s a long story.
Petr: Go ahead, I’ve got time.
Log: I haven’t always been a puppet.
Petr: Well, what were you?
Log: First, I was a pit.
Petr: What kind of pit?
Log: A plum pit.
Petr: Were you anything before that?
Log: What’s that question about?
Petr: Weren’t you a plum first?
Log: No. Who gave you that idea?
Petr: A plum with a pit inside it?
Log: No way. I’m a special kind of pit,
I’m independent. Pits like me are extremely rare.
We’re magic, we can talk.
You really can talk, Petr thought to himself.
OW! My throat hurts!
You can talk?
Of course I can talk! What’s so strange about that?
IN WHICH THE PLUM PIT BECOMES
A PLUM, BAMBOOZLES A BLACKBIRD
AND BECOMES PRESIDENT OF THE PLUMS
Petr: So what happened to you?
Log: I was spit out by a bratty little boy.
Petr: How come, if you were just a plum pit?
Log: Well, I wasn’t actually really that much
of an independent plum pit after all. I was inside
a plum for while, but I almost forgot about that.
Petr: Oh, I’m sorry. So the boy ate the plum
and then spit you out.
Log: No, not at all! First a gardener picked me,
threw me into a basket and took me to town.
There they tossed me into a box with some other
plums, some of which had gone all green with fear.
What will become of us? What will become of us?
Petr: Weren’t you scared?
Log: I’m not afraid of anything. Once, when I was still
hanging on the tree, a blackbird flew up. All the other
plums shook with fear. He flew straight over to me.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a blackbird,
but it’s basically a monster, something like a dragon or
a crocodile with wings and claws and sometimes
even two heads… It was just opening its beak
to scarf me down, when I say, “If you swallow me,
blackbird, you’ll get sick and die.”
And he says, “What are you talking about? Do you know
how many plums I’ve eaten?” And I say, “I guess those
were ordinary plums, not like us here in this tree, ‘cause
we’ve been crossed with toadstools.
We’re actually toadplums.
And the blackbird says, “Why should I believe you?”
And I answer, “Then don’t. Go ahead, eat me.
You’ll see, you won’t live till morning.”
Petr: So what did the blackbird do?
Log: He flew away and never came back and the other
plums elected me president. Since I’d saved their lives.
Petr: But then the gardener came and picked you.
Log: It all happened so fast. I had to give up being president
of our tree and instead wound up in the produce department.
Petr: And who bought you? The boy?
I was spit out by a bratty little boy.
I’m not afraid of anything.
Then don’t. Go ahead, eat me.
You’ll see, you won’t live till morning
IN WHICH THE PUPPET
NEARLY BECOMES PRESIDENT
I was hopping mad when he dumped me out of his briefcase
and onto a big round table where ten other
men in shirts and ties sat gaping at me with open mouths.
When I calmed down, the dad in the tie said,
“Gentlemen, this is our man! He isn’t actually a man,
but he is a magical creature and
people will love him.”
Everyone clapped and shouted hooray,
but I had no idea what they were talking about.
“What are you talking about?” I asked
“You’re going to be our candidate,” said
the dad in the tie.
“Our candidate for president,” said a bald
“The best thing about you is that you’re a puppet,”
said a man in round spectacles.
“It might be problematic if our president
is a puppet,” the bald man said.
“But that’s the whole point, he should be a puppet,”
replied the man in the spectacles.
“The president should be a puppet,” said the dad.
“But a puppet that doesn’t talk.
Let others do the talking,”
the bald man added.
“Taping his mouth shut works, my children
already tried that,” said the dad.
And so they kept arguing and arguing.
And meanwhile, I took a walk down the hallway.
No one noticed me except for a man with a mustache
who was prowling around there. He said
he was a guard and straight away asked me why I was there
and how I got in. He was wearing
a blue uniform and had a black stick under his belt.
I told him politely that it seems I’m going to be
president soon, and that once I was even
President of the Plums. The man
suddenly changed and began rubbing his mustache
and smiling. Then he asked if there was anything
he could do for me. I thanked him and was just heading
back to the men in the office
when he whacked me over the head
with his stick, and everything went dark.
Once I was even President of the Plums.
But that’s the whole point, he should be a puppet.
The president should be a puppet.
But a puppet that doesn’t speak.
Translated by Benjamin Aidan Lovett