“The Adventures of Pinocchio,” recently published in Khmer by the French NGO Sipar, is the classic tale of a naughty childlike character who learns through ordeals of his own making that he should obey his father and go to school.
Children relate to Pinocchio because of his imperfections, said Heng Satya, Sipar’s promotion manager. Street children identify with him even more since he faces hardships when he runs away from home, said Emanuela Minniti, country representative for the Italian Association for Aid to Children, or CIAI. Established in Cambodia since 1997, CIAI works with street children in Phsar Daum Thkow, in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district, using theater, dance and painting to help them reintegrate into schools, Minniti said. Having used Sipar’s educational books in its programs, CIAI offered to fund Sipar’s translation of Pinocchio this year.
Sipar liked the idea because it would bring a story from another culture to Cambodian children, Heng Satya said. In addition, Pinocchio learns bravery and honesty during his escapades and discovers the importance of education—all good lessons for children, he said.
The Khmer book released this month is the 1883 version of the story written by Carlo Collodi and illustrated by Carlo Chiostri, said Minniti. Pinocchio is a wooden puppet that comes to life and is adopted by the craftsman who made him. After lying and refusing to go to school, he runs away from home and lives on the streets with a blue fairy and a cricket as his advisers. He has his money stolen by a cat and a fox; ends up in the belly of a whale; and eventually returns home, eager to be good. The blue fairy then turns him into