Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers

The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear
Walter Moers

"A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest," says the narrator of Walter Moers’s epic adventure. "What about the Minipirates? What about the Hobgoblins, the Spiderwitch, the Babbling Billows, the Troglotroll, the Mountain Maggot…Mine is a tale of mortal danger and eternal love, of hair’s breadth, last-minute escapes." Welcome to the fantastic world of Zamonia, populated by all manner of extraordinary characters. It’s a land of imaginative lunacy and supreme adventure, wicked satire and epic fantasy, all mixed together, turned on its head, and lavishly illustrated by the author.

The Overlook Press; Tra edition


Rosy's scrawlings on The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear
Welcome to one of my most treasured books and one that gave me hope that I could combine some of my great project loves together. I'll just say simply that any book with illustrations personally drawn by the author makes me treasure it a whole lot more than any other book. Where I might once have dog-eared pages, cracked the spine, scrawled notes in the back or passed them on you will find me incredibly reluctant to do so simply by adding illustrations from the author. I guess this is because to do such a thing is to take the story a level up, to reveal more and to make a physical artwork out of a mental landscape. I also hold a lot of respect for art, be it good or bad, purely for the effort put into making it. Plus there's something a little magical about it all that takes you back to an age when hearts were more easily read, if not pure. I remember reading an illustrated edition of The Hobbit and it was the first proper book I ever read (not Spot the Dog) and it is back to roughly that age I fly whenever I see or read this The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear. That I now hold hope to have my own illustrations printed along with a story I imagined because of this book is aside from the point but it does show more of the impact a good book can have.
Even without intricate illustrations and onomatopoeia displayed large this book is extremely fun to read, likely for both adults and kids. The world of Zamonia is large and yet intricate, full of little delights and scenes written in a manner that adds magic to the experience of reading. Tension is there but the high stress of many fantasy and urban fantasy stories written today is nowhere to be seen so instead of coming away stressed and strung out there's a feeling of delight and ease. Captain Bluebear's story/ies are for those who find the little things in life enchanting and the big things in life stunning. There's no end to the play involved and it appears in the large and tiny creatures Captain Bluebear (I should include him as one of them) encounters, the strange landscapes he wanders through, the nooks and crannies within caverns, the booming sounds writ large, Captain Bluebear's journey and the completely unpredictable plot.
All in all, this book is a combination of comics, literature, children's literature, classic fantasy and creature features, to name a few things. I'm sure there's more you could say about it but really this book is just one to try. It is a whole other world, one you've probably never encountered before - not even the like. And because of this you should go and explore it. The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear is very well written, highly imaginative and playfully illustrated and I know that if it hadn't been The Hobbit picked as a first real book to read then this one would have been a fine pick. It has all you need within it, including some morals and life lessons as all good literature has.
So I shall end the recommendation with this: read it! You won't regret it even if you feel like you're mind is turning inside out.

I'd recommend this book to: anyone with a playful heart, reading to children in need of an imaginative and colourful challenge, who likes illustrated books and simply anyone who loves light-hearted but meaningful fantasy. In fact, I'd highly recommend this as a first real book for any child, especially if they find the reading material they've encountered so far boring. This will cure all that.

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