“The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear” (original title in German: “Die 13 1/2 Leben des Kapt’n Blaubar”). That’s a strange book title, isn’t it? Why 13 1/2 lives and not 13, or 14. Why not 12? And I must admit that I heard of white bears, brown bears and, if my memory serves me right, grey bears (just like a grey mouse). But blue? I have never seen a blue bear before and I probably won’t see ever in the future. Very strange things and here’s the subtitle from the book cover.
aka the biography of a bear who travels the seas, with many pictures and excerpts from the ‘Encyclopedia of Marvels, Life Forms and Other Phenomena of Zamonia and its Environs’ by Professor Abdullah Nightingale
… I think this confused me even more, and in the same time, it stimulated my curiosity. Let’s leave the book cover and get… inside the book! Eureka! Published in Greek on 2004 by Agra Publications and translated by Maria Aggelidou. It was first published in German on 1999, and the author, of course, is Walter Moers. Let’s see more.. hm… the prologue…
A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen-and-a-half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest. A bear must have his secrets, after all; they make him seem attractive and mysterious.
People often ask me what it was like in the old days. My answer: In the old days there was a lot more of everything. Yes, there used to be mysterious islands, kingdoms and whole continents that no longer exist. They lie beneath the waves of the eternal ocean, for the waters are slowly but inexorably rising higher and higher, and one day our planet will be entirely submerged. That is why I now live in a seaworthy ship perched on a cliff high above sea level. I propose to tell you about the aforesaid submerged islands and countries and the creatures and marvels that sank below the waves with them.
Our Captain Bluebear have seen so many things in his 13 1/2 lives, lives full of adventures and experience. At first the Minipirates found our Bluebear who taught him their trade. He got on stage when he fought as a congladiator exchanging tales and lies in duels of words. Two Babbling Billows (sea waves) taught him to talk and when he was on Gourmet Island he committed the sin of gluttony – can you blame him? Then he became a Navigator of a Roving Reptilian Rescuer and later he studied with the seven-brained Nocturnomath Professor Abdullah Nightingale, on the Nocturnal Academy in Gloomberg Mountains. Captain Bluebear fell in love in the silent Great Forest and got himself through a Dimensional Hiatus, where he learned from experience the meaning of past, present, future, here, there and over there. He crossed the Demara Desert, which has sugar instead of sand, riding Camedarys and he was a breath away from the secret desire of all living beings, the immortality, in the Tornado City. He found the exit in a dark labyrinth, along with an idea named 1600H, in Bollogg’s Brain, and set his foot on Atlantis – the capital of Zamonia, where he tooks various professions to make a living until he became really rich
I owned a villa with fifty-two rooms three swimming pools, and a personal duel-of-lies stage on which I could practise when at home. I never trained, however, because I was a spontaneous talent. Practising spoiled my style.
I had two chefs, one for cold buffets and another – my former employer Nabab Yeo, the Poophian master chef – for hot dishes. At my service twenty-four hours a day were a Cucumbrian masseur and a Witthog who, while I was being massaged, soothed my nerves by reading aloud from the works of Wilfred the Wordsmith.
A turn of fate follows, and Captain Bluebear is a stoker aboard the world’s largest ship, SS Moloch. In the end (of the book) Captain Bluebear is in a wonderful forest glade with Avriel, the love of his life. He builds a log cabin and they share a half-life together. At Peace…
But, until we get there… we will meet and live in detail the 13 1/2 lives of the courageous, brainy, handsome bear, unfolding in 713, concisely written, pages. All you need is appetite for adventure and our heroic chromobear will take care of the rest…
Don’t let anything scare you! Our resourceful hero will find a solution, even in the last minute. Let him introduce you to places where live the dreaded Malmstrom of the seven seas, Tyrannomobyus Rex (a gargantuan one eyed black whale), Qwerty Uiop (a gelatine prince from another Dimension), Hobgoblins, Spiderwitch, Muggs, Bollogs, Invisibles, Zamonium. And don’t forget Avriel!!!
For this enchanting journey all you must have with you is “13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear”, by Walter Moers. The best children book I ‘ve ever read!!! In this book you will also find excerpts from the Encyclopedia of Professor Abdullah Nightingale – really helpful to live the myth more intensively. These spice up the delicious dish of Bluebear’s narration.
Do yourself (and your kids) a favor and get this book asap! Get ready for a marathon of adventures and laughing! Christmas is coming, so may I suggest to gift this book to someone, no matter if he is old or young, no matter what he usually reads. This special bear is adorable since the first page you read and, with him, you will live all this amazing things he have seen! Bon Voyage!!!
The synopsis at the back of the book:
‘Within the first 15 pages I was carried away by the sheer craziness of it all… Some Minipirates find a baby bear with blue fur inside a walnut shell floating on the ocean towards a giant whirlpool. They rescue him and teach him about knots and waves, and that a good white lie is often considerably more exciting than the truth. Then, when he outgrows their ship to such an extent that he is in danger of sinking it, they abandon him on an island with a bottle of seaweed juice and a loaf of seaweed bread. Thus Bluebear comes to the end of his first life and embarks on his second. By the end of the book, he has expended exactly half of his 27 lives. Again and again, Moers confounds our expectations as the narrative twists and turns, travels backwards and forwards in time… Part science fiction, part fairy tale, part myth, part epic, the book is a satire on all these genres and so constantly satirises itself… Very amusing’
‘The most entertaining book in years’
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
‘A yarn of drollery, deeper meaning and sheer lunacy’