Click here to read my Introduction to this series.
If this series will involve some comparison of the Disney girls and boys, then 1940's Pinocchio makes for the perfect companion to 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Both are moral tales with the classic Disney elements of good (light and bright) and evil (pretty dark). The difference is that, while Snow White is a good example of behavior and various virtues, Pinocchio is an example of what happens to us when we inevitably fail in our aims to be good.
Pinocchio is Man, Geppetto is his Creator, Jiminy Cricket is his Conscience/Moral Compass, Honest John and Gideon and Stromboli are Temptation, and Pleasure Island is Sin. It's all so straightforward that I feel like I don't have much to talk about.
Geppetto makes Pinocchio, but he is just wood. The Blue Fairy gives him life, but along with that comes the ability to make choices. Only Pinocchio can make himself "a real boy" because only Pinocchio can choose the correct path. He has the free will to be a good boy and listen to his father and to Jiminy or to follow Honest John down to Pleasure Island, where a false feeling of freedom soon gives way to bondage. Only when he escapes and is willing to follow his father (who has been calling out to him all this time) wherever need be (all the way into the mouth of Monstro) can Pinocchio become "real." In essence, this is when he becomes the "new creation," that is, the boy who is no longer just moving wood.
Talk about this being a story to set an example for children--it's an example for adults, as well. There are right choices and there are wrong choices, and sometimes we don't quite realize that we're on our way into wrong choices--but that's all the more reason to pay attention to where we're placing our focus in our daily lives. And just because we've walked down that wrong path, doesn't mean our Creator won't be still calling out to us, waiting for us to return. Also, when you ask in good conscience for something and you have shown that you're worthy to receive, well, miracles do happen and people do receive what they have so greatly wanted (Geppetto received his boy and Pinocchio became alive and real).
Pinocchio's quest is to become "brave, truthful, and unselfish." These are all positive traits, especially viewed with one another. You want to be brave, but not at the expense of being truthful and unselfish; also, being brave will at times help you to be truthful and unselfish. You don't just wish upon a star; you don't just make a prayer. You do that and you look inward to see what you are or aren't doing in your life. That's all pretty positive.
So that's all I have to say. Pinocchio starts us off very much like Snow White does, with a simple moral tale. Sure, characters later on will introduce more elements, but this character and this film offer enough on their own for a wonderful story with a wonderful message for the audience.