Aesop lite

David Sedaris is very good at what he does—smartly crafted essays that explore the tragicomedy of human existence. In Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modern Bestiary, Sedaris turns his eye to nature with short stories that anthropomorphize the secret lives of animals. In “The Squirrel and the Chipmunk,” a smitten chipmunk is forced to ditch her bushy-tailed boyfriend amid protests from her conservative mother who is concerned about interspecies dating. “The Motherless Bear” is a sordid tale of an orphaned cub that slips into a pity-fueled downward spiral. The stories are amusing, but trifling—grown-up morality tales without lasting bite. What shines, however, are Ian Falconer’s accompanying illustrations: simple black, white and orange sketches that capture the nuances of the reader’s own very human emotions.