cover image The Fantastic Adventures of Baron Munchausen

The Fantastic Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Heinz Janisch, trans. from the German by Belinda Cooper, illus. by Alijoscha Blau, Enchanted Lion (Consortium, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59270-091-2

In his retellings of the Baron's tall tales, Janisch (I Have a Little Problem, Said the Bear) combines the bravura of Paul Bunyan with the elegance of Voltaire's Candide. Each story appears on the left, accompanied by a painting on the right of the beak-nosed Baron, nattily turned out in a dashing military tailcoat and tricorner, always placid despite the unusual circumstances in which he finds himself. "On an impulse I flung myself onto the flying cannonball," he says. "I held tight and felt the wind rush into my face." Blau shows the Baron calmly astride the cannonball, his silver pigtail streaming out behind him. Later, the Baron has a series of underwater adventures, finding a small orchestra in the belly of a whale, exploring the ocean floor on a seahorse ("Fortunately, my father had taught me how to hold my breath under water for hours") and falling in love ("I woke her cautiously and offered her a seat on the back of my seahorse"). Children with a romantic streak will be taken both with the Baron and his courtly fictions and by Blau's misty, stately portraits. All ages. (May)