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13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear Paperback – August 29, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; Tra edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585678449
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585678440
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–This novel opens with the title character's first memory: as a cub floating in the ocean with a nutshell for a life raft, he heads straight for a giant whirlpool threatening to suck him down. After he's rescued by a boatload of Lilliputian pirates, Bluebear enters into a life (or 13½ lifetimes) filled with humor and adventure. Each life has a different challenge to overcome, pitting him against the likes of headless giants and storytelling contests. The book is one part Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth and two parts Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Each adventure mixes fantasy, science fiction, and fables in a satirical cocktail that readers can't help but gulp down. The quirky writing is definitely strong enough to carry itself, but Moers includes several black-and-white illustrations that enhance the whimsy. With so many little side trips in Bluebear's narrative, the story might frustrate those who prefer straight-line plots. But this is the kind of tale that readers have to just sit back and enjoy, wherever it takes them. The ending does tie the loose threads together. A wild, fun-filled ride.–Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

It's fun and engaging.
Lila Louise
This is one of the books I just like to reread again and again, it never gets boring.
Arvid
I read the book four times, and it got even funnier.
hein bloed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By David Minchin on October 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found this book on my bookshelf and read it while on holiday because it looked quite thick. It is tale of pure fantasy, the imagination in the writing and storyline makes this one of the best books ever. The writing is light-hearted and continuously upbeat, Captain Bluebear displays an amazing capacity for optimism which makes you love every second of his lives. The story twists bizare tales which defy prediction and keep you wondering what will happen next. It is witty and comical with many illustrations however the thing I love about this book is that it is a tall tale well told, a classic of creativity and story telling.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lila Louise on November 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
I kind of resent the fact people keep calling it that. It's basically a book in the style of "The Hitchhiker's Guide..." so I guess if that's a children's book....

It's basically a journey story. It's wonderfully entertaining and very fast. It's basically a book for adults with a childlike imagination. It's fun and engaging. When's the last time you picked up a adult lit book with illustrations? It's just fun.

I highly recommend it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By KH1 VINE VOICE on April 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just finished _the 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear_ and while it was very funny and sometimes thought provoking, I thought that this book would be the most fun to read out loud to an intelligent and quirky child of nine or ten. [In fact, I'm giving it as a gift as such.] Not that adults wouldn't enjoy it [I did immensely].

_13 1/2 lives_ begins when a ship of minipirates discover a baby bluebear floating in a walnut shell headed for The Malmstrom - a gigantic whirlpool whose nature scientists are still debating. The minipirates teach bluebear about sailing and launching attacks on ships, and about tying knots, but he soon grows to big for their boat and so they leave him on Hobgoblin island. [The end of his first life.]

From Hobgoblin Island [his second life] he escapes on a raft and floats off to sea [ his third life] and so the narrative travels on for 13 1/2 more lives, with no particular destination, and no particular plot, except maybe that Bluebear must survive each life to make it to the next. And, as bluebear himself says, "Some lives are short, others long, and many are middling." The book gets dull at times when the author goes too much into detail about any one life (Mr. Moers is at no loss for imagination), but the rest of the time, I couldn't wait to see what Mr. Moers would come up with next. He is a great satirist, and capably and subtly satirizes himself at many points in the narrative. [Such as the chapter in which Bluebear becomes the King of Lies.]

Highly recommended, and, as I said, would be really fun to read with a kid.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
If Norman Juster had written "The Hobbit," it might have turned out something like "The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear."

It's also the best description of Walter Moers' debut novel, which is probably the best children's book ever written for adults. Set on the mythical continent of Zamonia, Moers sketches out hundreds of strange creatures and surreal adventures, all written in wryly colourful prose.

Bluebear was found floating in a walnut shell, raised by peg-legged hook-handed Minipirates, taught by the talking waves, and kept as entertainment by gruesome hobgoblins. But when he ends up on a giant carnivorous island disguised as a gourmet's paradise, Bluebear is rescued by Deus X. Machina, a Reptilian Rescuer who later brings him to the Nocturnal Academy, run by the seven-brained Professor Abdullah Nightingale.

But when he reaches the end of his education, Nightingale sends Bluebear onto a strange series of adventures -- he falls into a Dimensional Hiatus, is almost eaten by the Spiderwitch, travels through a Bollogg brain, gets swept up in an aging tornado, chases mirages with the Muggs, and finally becomes a Congladiator (lying/storytelling competitor) in Atlantis. But after a match gone bad, Bluebear must flee Atlantis -- and is abducted by the Moloch, a monstrous ship run by the most insidious substance in Zamonia...

Walter Moers should get some kind of award for cramming as many fantastical, bizarre creatures into one book -- carpet dimensions, tiny cyclops, hairy imps, metallic rock-eaters, killer sugar-skeletons, antlered dogs, and headless giants all turn up, and that's only the start. It's a good thing Bluebear gets an encyclopedia in his brain (from Nightingale), or else we would never keep them all straight.
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Diane H. Meftagh on May 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have just finished the 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear. What a delight. I thoroughly enjoyed Moers vocabulary and imagination. How fabulous to find an amusing and captivating book that is not for the feeble brained. We are in the middle of construction on our home and this was the perfect diversion for those stressful times. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By T. Snyder VINE VOICE on May 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Let's just say that getting through the "13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear" was a "bear". Clocking in at just over 700 pages, I think this would have been a much better book if edited down to about 300-400 pages. There is definitely that much 'extra'. By the end, I started skipping the paragraph-upon-paragraph of descriptions and it actually helped pick up my interest again. The Encyclopedia in Bluebear's brain was funny the first few times, but multiple times per story, and I quickly found it too long and repetitive.

To be fair, I do think the author is extremely creative. I loved the inclusion of the drawings. It made the book feel a little bit more fun. But that's the problem, I never really found this book to be fun or magical. I think good ideas are definitely there, but it's just not executed well. The 13 stories are all very similar in terms of their layout/ structure, though this could be the German/ Grimm fairy tale influence in Moers showing through. Encounter new land. Describe new land - a lot. Meet minor character(s). Encounter problem. Defeat problem at the last minute. Escape to new land. Repeat 12 more times...

I sadly felt no attachment to the Bluebear, our protagonist, even after 700 pages. I felt there was zero character development. He seemed too robotic to me - too smart/ not feeling/ not caring/ too blank of a slate/ too "perfect". I felt the writing was average, and again this could be because Moers is writing in a second language.

I was very excited to have found this book based on the plot description and the glowing reviews here on Amazon. However, the "13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear" fell disappointingly short of my expectations.
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