Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

In the Middle Ages, bestiaries—illustrated volumes describing various animals—were used widely to convey the word of God. The belief was that Word could be found in the natural world. How appropriate that biting humorist David Sedaris and children’s book illustrator Ian Falconer (of Olivia series fame) have set out to tell of modern morality in the fables of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk. Here Sedaris includes a Roald Dahl-like cast of characters that allows him to address a range of weighty issues. Two adult storks argue the origin of babies; a chipmunk is haunted by memories of a squirrel she once dated; a pot-bellied pig becomes obsessed with his physique; an Australian setter considers fidelity to his wife while on stud call; and a cynical cat attends AA while in prison. Falconer’s stunning two-tone caricatures lend a comical bent to the dark tone of Sedaris’ stories; however, one soon realizes the seriousness of this seemingly light-hearted volume. If the natural world informs humanity here, then we are forced to recognize its barbarous nature—our discriminatory tendencies, our addictions, our perversions and our self-righteousness.