Introductory paragraphs for various translations:
Mary Alice (M.A.) Murray (1892: IJL, Unicorn):
There was once upon a time. . .
"A king!" my little readers will instantly exclaim.
No, children you are wrong. There was once upon a time a piece of wood.
This wood was not valuable: it was only a common log like those that are burnt in winter in the stoves and fireplaces to make a cheerful blaze and warm the rooms.
I cannot say how it came about, but the fact is that one fine day this piece of wood was lying in the shop of an old carpenter of the name of Master Antonio. He was, however, called by everybody Master Cherry, on account of the end of his nose, which was always as red and polished as a ripe cherry.
Walter S. Cramp and Charles Copeland (1901)
Joseph Walker (Rainbow Classics):
Once upon a time there was—
"A king!" my little readers will say at once.
No, my dears, you are wrong. Once upon a time there was a stick of wood. It was not a fine stick, either, but just such another as you put in the fireplace to heat the room.
I do not know how it came about, but one fine day this stick of wood was found in the carpenter shop of an old man named Antonio. Everybody called him Master Cherry, however, because of the color of his nose which was red and shiny like a ripe cherry.
Carol Della Chiesa:
Centuries ago there lived—
"A king!" my little readers will say immediately.
No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood. It was not an expensive piece of wood. Far from it. Just a common block of firewood, one of those thick, solid logs that are put on the fire in winter to make cold rooms cozy and warm.
I do not know how this really happened, yet the fact remains that one fine day this piece of wood found itself in the shop of an old carpenter. His real name was Mastro Antonio, but everyone called him Mastro Cherry, for the tip of his nose was so round and red and shinny that it looked like a ripe cherry.
M. L. Rosenthal:
Once upon a time there was—
"A king!" my young readers are shouting.
No, children, you're wrong! Once upon a time there was—a piece of wood.
That's all, nothing fancy—a plain little log, just right for a wood stove or a fireplace, to warm up a room in the winter.
Somehow, that log turned up suddenly one day in a poor old carpenter's workshop. His name was Mr. Tony, but everybody called him Mr. Cherry. That's because his nose was so shiny and purply-red, like a very ripe cherry.
E. Hardin (Puffin):
There was once upon a time . . .
'A king!' my little readers will shout together.
No, children, you make a mistake. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.
It was not the best, but just a common piece of wood, such as is used in stoves and fireplaces to kindle the fire and warm the rooms in winter.
How it happened I cannot tell, but the fact is that one day this piece of wood just happened to be there in the shop of an old carpenter whose real name was Mr Antonio, but everyone called him Mr Cherry, because the tip of his nose was always as red and shiny as a ripe cherry.
Ann Lawson Lucas (Oxford):
Once upon a time there was . . .
'A king!' my little readers will say straight away. No, children, you are mistaken. Once upon a time there was a piece of wood.
It was not expensive wood, but just a bit of firewood, like the ones that people use to light a fire in the stove or on the hearth to warm their rooms in winter.
I don't know how it happened, but the fact is that one fine day this piece of wood appeared in the workshop of an old carpenter whose name was Master Anthony, except that everyone called him maestro Cherry because of the end of his nose, which was always shiny and purple, just like a ripe cherry.
Geoffrey Brock (2009? NYRB)
John Hooper & Anna Kraczyna (2021: Annotated Penguin)
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