cover image The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear

The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear

Walter Moers, , trans. from the German by John Brownjohn. . Overlook, $26.95 (704pp) ISBN 978-1-58567-724-5

Nine-lived cats have nothing on the "bluebear," who, according to German author and illustrator Moers, has a whopping 27 lives. In this inventive, zany, fun-for-all ages odyssey (a bestseller in Europe), an intrepid "seagoing bear" offers his "demibiography." A foundling floating in a nutshell on the Zamonian Sea, the azure-furred Bluebear is rescued by Minipirates, impish nautical geniuses, who raise him and then, after he gets too big, abandon him to live out 13 lifetimes of adventure populated by a dizzying array of eccentric characters. Among them, two argumentative waves known as the "Babbling Billows" teach Bluebear speech, sage dinosaur Mac (real name: Deus X. Machina) extends friendship and Professor Abdullah Nightingale at the Nocturnal Academy offers a particularly intense and wacky education. Even readers with short attention spans will find themselves captivated by the nonstop parade of madcap characters as treacherous predicaments resolve themselves with charming ease. Magnificent sugarstorms, tornadoes inhabited by old men and "dimensional hiatuses" propel the independent, indefatigable Bluebear to Atlantis, where he must demonstrate the relevance of his experiences in a psychological duel of sorts. Comparisons to Harry Potter aside, Moers's kaleidoscopic expedition is fanciful and endlessly entertaining. 136 b&w illus. Agent, Jane Kirby at Random House UK . (Oct.)