Reviews by JoelReinstein
A Beautiful Show
»
The winner of one Primetime Emmy and three Annie Awards for Animation, "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is one of one of the finest children's shows in recent memory. The cartoon follows the adventures of a young boy and his friends through a fantasy world in which people can manipulate the four elements through martial arts. Featuring Chinese, Inuit, Japanese, and Tibetan cultures, the show is marked by themes of tolerance, environmental conservation, coming-of-age, and abundant warmth in human relationships. Its simple beauty has won it popularity among children and adults alike, and a sequel series ("The Legend of Korra") recently completed its first season to similar acclaim.

-Joel Antonio di Libraria Ann Arbor
Nautical Demiautobiography
»
It's commonly thought that stories, when translated into another language, lose something of their Original Essence. This might be true in most cases. Most food, given enough time, decays into something we wouldn't want to eat. "The Thirteen and 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear," however, is more like wine or stinky tofu: through two layers of translation, it can only grow and refine.

The book was originally written in Zamonian by its eponymous author. The only direct translation we have is in the German of preeminent cartoonist and writer Walter Moers, whose translations from Zamonian include "Rumo & Die Wunder im Dunkeln" and "Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher." An English version of Moers' translation has come to us through John Brownjohn, winner of the Schlegel-Tieck and Kurt Wolff prizes for his work in German-to-English translation.

In this tome, Captain Bluebear - that peerless paragon of the nautical arts, greatest Congladiator to ever be called "King of Lies," interdimensional traveler, and all-around gentleman - has graciously bestowed upon us a narrative description of his first 13 and 1/2 lives. It provides a peek at what life is like on the continent of Zamonia, a strange and terrible place peopled by obscenely miraculous beings and impossibly fantastic geographical features. Seven-brained gnomes, microscopic pirates, a city inside a permanent tornado and pterodactyls who are professional rescuers are just some of the wonders encountered by the esteemed Captain on his travels.

While not for the faint of heart, "Captain Bluebear" performs well as a children's tale for adults that is incidentally appropriate for all ages. Some have compared it to Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," but their similarities are limited. Where Adams produced biting satire, Bluebear's account is more of an imaginative romp - and, of course, a demiautobiography.

"The Thirteen and 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear' is not for everyone, but I can recommend it to anyone who reads. If you happen to be such a person, then "Captain Bluebear" is for you.

-Joel Antonio di Libraria Ann Arbor