“A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest.” Surely that’s got to go down as one of the greatest opening lines in fiction. Especially when he continues, listing creatures as diverse as the Mountain Maggot and the Troglotroll. The story follows the Bluebear from his “birth” (really he just wakes up and realizes he is floating in a walnut shell straight towards a giant whirlpool) to his education (in the Nocturnal Academy of Professor Abdullah Nightingale, he of the seven brains) to his adventures traversing through a Bollogg’s head (well, what else are you supposed to do when the Bollogg leaves his head in the middle of a mountain pass?). Each of the bluebear’s lives is crazier than the next.
If there’s a deeper meaning to this book, I didn’t find it. And you certainly don’t need to in order to enjoy it. It is 700 pages, so it’s a bit of a commitment. But there are plenty of illustrations scattered throughout (and a few BOOM!s that take up a whole page by themselves), and overall, it’s a pretty quick read. If you enjoy Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein, you will enjoy this book. If you don’t enjoy either of them, the odds are good that you will still enjoy this book. After all, who can resist a few Minipirates or a gelatine prince of the 2364th dimension?