In an Italian village, Geppetto, an old woodcarver, receives a piece of wood which looks perfect for his next project, a puppet. But when he sets to work something magical happens the piece of wood begins to talk. When Geppetto is finished, the puppet turns out to be cheeky, naughty, and can walk, run and eat with as hearty an appetite as any young boy.

Geppetto calls him [[MeaningfulName Pinocchio (which means "pine nut")]] and brings him up as his son. However, Pinocchio is disobedient he tells lies, and every time he lies (or is otherwise distressed), his nose grows longer. Geppetto makes many sacrifices for his adopted son, but Pinocchio finds it hard to be good. He is easily led astray, tumbling from one disastrous adventure to another, in the course of which he is robbed, imprisoned, chased by bandits, and only narrowly escapes death. His friends, the Cricket and the Blue Fairy, try to make see that his dream to be a real boy can never come true until Pinocchio finally changes his ways.