Just like I knew who Darth Vader was for a decade before I watched Star Wars, I knew the story of Pinocchio by ambient cultural knowledge: The puppet that wanted to be a real boy, and couldn’t lie without getting a longer nose. Two impressions come to mind when I remember reading it:
The book has a lot of moralising, which I hated in books as a child. Every bad deed is punished, every good decision rewarded. Pinocchio is unreliable, a liar, lazy, selling his school books for money for a theatre ticket – I didn’t know what hedonism was when I read the book, but I knew when “Attention, kids: this is bad” was slapped in my face.
The lingering atmospheric impression of the book is musty, dark, dangerous, a bit uncanny: I don’t remember it as a happy place. Pinocchio meets two bandits, who deceive him, rob him blind, hang him in a tree, and finally leave because he takes too long to suffocate. When he is revived and reports the crime to the court, he is imprisoned for being stupid enough to let himself be deceived like that. But see the positive side, at least the book does not inspire kids to trust in jurisdiction.