(hb; 2010; illustrations by Ian Falconer)
From the inside flap:
"If animals were more like us,
if mice kept pets and toads could cuss,
if dogs had wives and chipmunks dated,
sheep sat still and meditated,
then in the forest, field and dairy
you might find this bestiary,
read by storks, by rats and kitties,
skimmed by cows with milk-stained titties.
'I found this book to be most droll,'
might quip the bear, the owl, the mole.
Others, though, would be more coarse.
'Bull,' could say the pig and horse.
As to the scribe, they'd quote the hen:
'Trust me, he's no La Fontaine.' "
Grim morality-toned book that looks like a kid's book, but isn't.
Falconer's stunning illustrations amplify the effect of Sedaris's short, sharp 'animals with anthromorphized motives' stories, from the bleak "The Crow and the Lamb", "The Vigilant Rabbit" and "The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat" (with their egregious, manipulative and self-righteous villains) to the comparatively gentle and sublime "The Parenting Storks" and "The Grieving Owl".
This book isn't for the faint of heart, but it should be read by as many people as possible. There's more than a bit of ourselves in these fickle, purblind, judgmental and pernicious animals, more than most of us would probably like to admit.
This is one of my favorite reads of late -- worth owning.