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Literature / Pinocchio’s Sister

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Pinocchio's Sister is a novel by Jan Slepian.

Mr. Rosedale, a talented ventriloquist, ignores his daughter Martha, pouring all his love onto his dummy Iris. Increasingly jealous, Martha decides to get rid of Iris. Can she get her happy ending with the help of her vaudeville friends?


This book contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adult Fear: It's even lampshaded at the start of the book that the "scary story" in the book isn't about monsters under the bed. Where to begin? The story starts with Martha being largely neglected by her father, who pours everything he has into his vaudeville act and his dummy Iris. His reason for being so closed off is adult fear in itself — his second wife, Martha's stepmother, ran off with another performer, and he hasn't yet been able to live it down. Then, at the end of the book, Martha goes missing...
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  • Big, Friendly Dog: Sparkle Bob is a retriever. He seems rather big and powerful and he loves everybody, especially his owner Rosie Pelosi.
  • Dog Walks You: Sparkle Bob is a big, energetic retriever and Martha is a fairly small girl. When she takes him for a walk, it is difficult for her to control him, and at one point he yanks the leash out of her hands and runs away.
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: This is lampshaded by an immigrant boy named Stashu. He says that he's very smart in Polish, but he sounds stupid in English (which is understandable, given that it's his second language).
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Martha's understandable jealousy of Iris drives a large portion of the story. She hates that the puppet has everybody's attention — most of all her father's — and is thought of as so pretty and talented while she gets pushed to the side.
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  • I Just Want to Be You: Near the end, Martha realizes that she doesn't want to wreck Iris so much as replace her. In fact, she seemingly imagines Iris telling her this.
    No, silly girl. You don't want to destroy me. You want to be me.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Stanislaus Pliska, or Stashu, has eyes "the color of cloudless sky." He is a very nice teenager and quickly becomes Martha's best friend at the boarding house.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: Rosie Pelosi, being asked to take part in a vaudeville act, asks if the suggested pianist can read music. The manager, Larry Beck, replies, "Does a dog have fleas?" and then apologizes to Sparkle Bob.
  • Let Me at Him!: Glenda Blue yells this and lunges at the stage manager when she hurts her back thanks to a loose board she warned him about.
  • Meaningful Echo: Iris' Catchphrase is a flippant "Help, help." Martha copies it toward the end when she is pretending to be Iris.
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  • Missing Mom: Martha's mother died when she was little, and her stepmother ran away with another vaudeville performer.
  • The Nose Knows: The Pliskas' poodle Lulu uses her nose to find Sparkle Bob after he runs away. Later, she uses her nose to find Martha after she runs away.
  • Parental Neglect: Mr. Rosedale tends to act as though Iris is his daughter, to the point of calling her and Martha sisters at one point. Martha is very aware of how she's been shunted to the side and hates it. However, it seems Mr. Rosedale is not entirely aware of what he's doing to Martha; at one point, he asks her point-blank if he neglects her after being called out about it by Mrs. Pelosi. Unfortunately, Martha is so overwhelmed by feeling close to him again that she can't get her feelings out, and he dismisses it as Mrs. Pelosi being melodramatic.
  • Ship Tease: In the epilogue, Stashu and Martha meet again and Stashu says she looks prettier than he remembers.
  • Silent Treatment: After Martha has an outburst at Iris in the park, her father does not speak to her for hours.
  • Sticky Fingers: Stashu enlists the help of an uncle who used to be a thief to steal the key to Iris' case.
  • What Have We Ear?: A stage magician eating with Martha pretends to pull a roll out of her ear. He tries to repeat the trick with butter, but Martha giggles and pulls away, not wanting butter in her ear.
  • You No Take Candle: Stashu and the other Pliskas speak in broken English because they're new to the United States.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The thing that drove Mr. Rosedale to become bitter and absorbed in Iris was his wife running off with another performer. To make things worse, news travels fast on the vaudeville circuit, so he keeps hearing about it even when he's moving around.

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