Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

( 547 )

Overview

Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.

In "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck," three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. In "Hello Kitty," a cynical feline struggles to sit through his prison-mandated AA ...

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Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary

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Overview

Featuring David Sedaris's unique blend of hilarity and heart, this new collection of keen-eyed animal-themed tales is an utter delight. Though the characters may not be human, the situations in these stories bear an uncanny resemblance to the insanity of everyday life.

In "The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck," three strangers commiserate about animal bureaucracy while waiting in a complaint line. In "Hello Kitty," a cynical feline struggles to sit through his prison-mandated AA meetings. In "The Squirrel and the Chipmunk," a pair of star-crossed lovers is separated by prejudiced family members.

With original illustrations by Ian Falconer, author of the bestselling Olivia series of children's books, these stories are David Sedaris at his most observant, poignant, and surprising.

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  • Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
    Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

"Someone suggested that my new book is bedtimes stories for children who drink." That judgment can't be taken too seriously, but David Sedaris' Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk does qualify as a contrarian contemporary redo of Aesop animal fables. A Barnes & Noble Bestseller now in paperback and NOOK Book.

<b>Judith Newman</b> - People
PRAISE FOR WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES:

"He's the best there is."

Christopher Muther - Boston Globe
"A joy to read....Sedaris [is] a connoisseur of human nature at its worst."
Mark Washburn - Charlotte Observer
"Sedaris is certainly worthy of hero worship....He is a master pathfinder."
Christopher Muther
A joy to read....Sedaris [is] a connoisseur of human nature at its worst.
Boston Globe
Mark Washburn
Sedaris is certainly worthy of hero worship....He is a master pathfinder.
Charlotte Observer
Whitney Pastorek
The preeminent humorist of his generation.
Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
"The preeminent humorist of his generation."
Publishers Weekly
Like a modern-day Aesop or La Fontaine, Sedaris has his darkly comic and deeply cynical (if somewhat rambling) morality stories enacted by animals. Although Sedaris typically narrates his works solo, here he is joined by Dylan Baker, Siân Phillips, and (the incomparable) Elaine Stritch. The dry tones of both women are particularly well suited to the knowing commentary offered by various domesticated, barnyard, and wild animals on casual racism, self-congratulatory sanctimony, poor excuses for adultery, and fad spiritualism, among other common societal ills. The audiobook features a bonus fable not available in the text version of the book; in addition, the third CD includes PDFs of the book's illustrations by Ian Falconer (writer/illustrator of the Olivia picture book series). A Little, Brown hardcover. (Sept.)
Carolyn Kellogg
Wickedly funny....These are some of Sedaris's best stories...The animals have given Sedaris's humor some new teeth: tiny and sharp, and sometimes even ready to draw blood.
Los Angeles Times
Chris Jones
Wry and amusing.
Chicago Tribune
Craig Wilson
Great fun.
USA Today
Heller McAlpin
Outrageous....Wonderful...Sedaris's anthropomorphized creatures may seem domesticated, but this book, like his more familiar essays, is...wildly inspired—and a rip-roaring hoot.
NPR
Leah Greenblatt
For the strong-stomached, these tales are toxic little treats, fun-sized Snicker bars with a nougaty strychnine center.
Entertainment Weekly
Raleigh News & Observer
"The funniest man on the planet."
From the Publisher
"Outrageous....Wonderful...Sedaris's anthropomorphized creatures may seem domesticated, but this book, like his more familiar essays, is...wildly inspired—and a rip-roaring hoot."—Heller McAlpin, NPR

"Wickedly funny....These are some of Sedaris's best stories...The animals have given Sedaris's humor some new teeth: tiny and sharp, and sometimes even ready to draw blood."—Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times

"Wry and amusing."—Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

"For the strong-stomached, these tales are toxic little treats, fun-sized Snicker bars with a nougaty strychnine center."—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

"Great fun."—Craig Wilson, USA Today

"The funniest man on the planet."—Raleigh News & Observer

Leah Greenblatt - Entertainment Weekly
"For the strong-stomached, these tales are toxic little treats, fun-sized Snicker bars with a nougaty strychnine center."
Craig Wilson - USA Today
"Great fun."
Carolyn Kellogg - Los Angeles Times
"Wickedly funny....These are some of Sedaris's best stories...The animals have given Sedaris's humor some new teeth: tiny and sharp, and sometimes even ready to draw blood."
Chris Jones - Chicago Tribune
"Wry and amusing."
Heller McAlpin - NPR
"Outrageous....Wonderful...Sedaris's anthropomorphized creatures may seem domesticated, but this book, like his more familiar essays, is...wildly inspired--and a rip-roaring hoot."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316038393
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Pages: 159
  • Sales rank: 265,439
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David  Sedaris
David Sedaris is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and Public Radio International's This American Life. He is the author of the books When You Are Engulfed in Flames, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Naked, and Barrel Fever.

Biography

According to Time Out New York, "David Sedaris may be the funniest man alive." He's the sort of writer critics tend to describe not in terms of literary influences and trends, but in terms of what they choked on while reading his latest book. "I spewed a mouthful of pastrami across my desk," admitted Craig Seligman in his New York Times review of Naked.

Sedaris first drew national attention in 1992 with a stint on National Public Radio, on which he recounted his experiences as a Christmas elf at Macy's. He discussed "the code names for various posts, such as 'The Vomit Corner,' a mirrored wall near the Magic Tree" and confided that his response to "I'm going to have you fired" was the desire to lean over and say, "I'm going to have you killed." The radio pieces were such a hit that Sedaris, then working as a house cleaner, started getting offers to write movies, soap operas and Seinfeld episodes.

In subsequent appearances on NPR, Sedaris proved he wasn't just a velvet-clad flash in the pan; he's also wickedly funny on the subjects of smoking, speed, shoplifting and nervous tics. His work began appearing in magazines like Harper's and Mirabella, and his first book Barrel Fever, which included "SantaLand Diaries," was a bestseller. "These hilarious, lively and breathtakingly irreverent stories…made me laugh out loud more than anything I've read in years," wrote Francine Prose in the Washington Post Book World.

Since then, each successive Sedaris volume has zoomed to the top of the bestseller lists. In Naked, he recounts odd jobs like volunteering at a mental hospital, picking apples as a seasonal laborer and stripping woodwork for a Nazi sympathizer. The stocking stuffer-sized Holidays on Ice collects Sedaris' Christmas-themed work, including a fictional holiday newsletter from the homicidal stepmother of a 22-year-old Vietnamese immigrant ("She arrived in this house six weeks ago speaking only the words 'Daddy,' 'Shiny' and 'Five dollar now'. Quite a vocabulary!!!!!").

But Sedaris' best pieces often revolve around his childhood in North Carolina and his family of six siblings, including the brother who talks like a redneck gangsta rapper and the sister who, in a hilarious passage far too dirty to quote here, introduces him to the joys of the Internet. Sedaris' recent book Me Talk Pretty One Day describes, among other things, his efforts to learn French while helping his boyfriend fix up a Normandy farmhouse; he progresses "from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. 'Is thems the thoughts of cows?' I'd ask the butcher, pointing to the calves' brains displayed in the front window."

Sedaris has been compared to American humorists such as Mark Twain, James Thurber and Dorothy Parker; Publisher's Weekly called him "Garrison Keillor's evil twin." Pretty heady stuff for a man who claims there are cats that weigh more than his IQ score. But as This American Life producer Ira Glass once pointed out, it would be wrong to think of Sedaris as "just a working Joe who happens to put out these perfectly constructed pieces of prose." Measured by his ability to turn his experiences into a sharply satirical, sidesplittingly funny form of art, David Sedaris is no less than a genius.

Good To Know

Sedaris got his start in radio after This American Life producer Ira Glass saw him perform at Club Lower Links in Chicago. In addition to his NPR commentaries, Sedaris now writes regularly for Esquire.

Sedaris's younger sister Amy is also a writer and performer; the two have collaborated on plays under the moniker "The Talent Family." Amy Sedaris has appeared onstage as a member of the Second City improv troupe and on Comedy Central in the series Strangers with Candy.

"If I weren't a writer, I'd be a taxidermist," Sedaris said in a chat on Barnes and Noble.com. According to the Boston Phoenix, his collection of stuffed dead animals includes a squirrel, two fruit bats, four Boston terriers and a baby ostrich.

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    1. Also Known As:
      David Raymond Sedaris (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 26, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      Johnson City, New York
    1. Education:
      B.F.A., School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1987

Table of Contents

The Cat and the Baboon 3

The Migrating Warblers 9

The Squirrel and the Chipmunk 15

The Toad, the Turtle, and the Duck 22

The Motherless Bear 29

The Mouse and the Snake 41

The Parenting Storks 51

The Faithful Setter 60

The Crow and the Lamb 75

The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat 85

The Cow and the Turkey 92

The Vigilant Rabbit 101

The Judicious Brown Chicken 109

The Parrot and the Potbellied Pig 119

Hello Kitty 131

The Grieving Owl 141

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First Chapter

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

A Modest Bestiary
By Sedaris, David

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2010 Sedaris, David
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316038393

The Cat and the Baboon

The cat had a party to attend, and went to the baboon to get herself groomed.

“What kind of party?” the baboon asked, and she massaged the cat’s neck in order to relax her, the way she did with all her customers. “Hope it’s not that harvest dance down on the riverbank. My sister went last year and said she’d never seen such rowdiness. Said a fight broke out between two possums, and one gal, the wife of one or the other, got pushed onto a stump and knocked out four teeth. And they were pretty ones too, none of this yellowness you find on most things that eat trash.”

The cat shuddered. “No,” she said. “This is just a little get-together, a few friends. That type of thing.”

“Will there be food?” the baboon asked.

“Something,” the cat sighed. “I just don’t know what.”

“ ‘Course it’s hard,” the baboon said. “Everybody eating different things. You got one who likes leaves and another who can’t stand the sight of them. Folks have gotten so picky nowadays, I just lay out some peanuts and figure they either eat them or they don’t.”

“Now, I wouldn’t like a peanut,” the cat said. “Not at all.”

“Well, I guess you’d just have drinks, then. The trick is knowing when to stop.”

“That’s never been a problem for me,” the cat boasted. “I drink until I’m full, and then I push myself away from the table. Always have.”

“Well, you’ve got sense, then. Not like some of them around here.” The baboon picked a flea from the cat’s head and stuck it gingerly between her teeth. “Take this wedding I went to—last Saturday, I think it was. Couple of marsh rabbits got married—you probably heard about it.”

The cat nodded.

“Now, I like a church service, but this was one of those write-your-own-vows sorts of things. Neither of them had ever picked up a pen in their life, but all of a sudden they’re poets, right, like that’s all it takes—being in love.”

“My husband and I wrote our own vows,” the cat said defensively.

“Sure you did,” countered the baboon, “but you probably had something to say, not like these marsh rabbits, carrying on that their love was like a tender sapling or some damn thing. And all the while they had this squirrel off to the side, plucking at a harp, I think it was.”

“I had a harp player at my wedding,” the cat said, “and it was lovely.”

“I bet it was, but you probably hired a professional, someone who could really play. This squirrel, I don’t think she’d taken a lesson in her life. Just clawed at those strings, almost like she was mad at them.”

“Well, I’m sure she tried her best,” the cat said.

The baboon nodded and smiled, the way one must in the service industry. She’d planned to tell a story about a drunken marsh rabbit, the brother of the groom at last week’s wedding, but there was no point in it now, not with this client anyway. Whatever she said, the cat disagreed with, and unless she found a patch of common ground she was sure to lose her tip. “You know,” she said, cleaning a scab off the cat’s neck, “I hate dogs. Simply cannot stand them.”

“What makes you bring that up?” the cat asked.

“Just thinking,” the baboon said. “Some kind of spaniel mix walked in yesterday, asking for a shampoo, and I sent him packing, said, ‘I don’t care how much money you have, I’m not making conversation with anyone who licks his own ass.’ ” And the moment she said it, she realized her mistake.

“Now, what’s wrong with that?” the cat protested. “It’s good to have a clean anus. Why, I lick mine at least five times a day.”

“And I admire you for it,” the baboon said, “but you’re not a dog.”

“Meaning?”

“On a cat it’s… classy,” the baboon said. “There’s a grace to it, but a dog, you know the way they hunker over, legs going every which way.”

“Well, yes,” the cat said. “I suppose you have a point.”

“Then they slobber and drool all over everything, and what they don’t get wet, they chew to pieces.”

“That they do.” The cat chuckled, and the baboon relaxed and searched her memory for a slanderous dog story. The collie, the German shepherd, the spaniel mix she claimed to have turned away: they were all good friends of hers, and faithful clients, but what would it hurt to pretend otherwise and cross that fine line between licking ass and simply kissing it?



Continues...

Excerpted from Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by Sedaris, David Copyright © 2010 by Sedaris, David. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 547 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(139)

4 Star

(126)

3 Star

(126)

2 Star

(83)

1 Star

(73)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 547 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 9, 2010

    Aesop's Fables meets Grimm's Fairy Tales

    This was an exceptionally short read (84 or so pages), and, quite frankly, overpriced. While the stories were interesting, they were all quite morbid. Perhaps I just didn't get it, but it is not something I would necessarily recommend. This should be offered as a "buy a real book, get this fairy tale free." It was something that I read in less than an hour.

    17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Don't waste your money

    Been a fan of Sedaris for a long time, but this book is stomach turning at times. NOT FUNNY! Maybe I don't get it, but I wish I could return it.

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2010

    Disappointing

    I've been a fan of Sedaris' work for years. What most impressed me in the past was his skill at conveying myriad human experience with wit and compassion. I think his most recent works, this book included, lack these qualities. I used to laugh out loud while reading his works and now I sometimes cringe.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2010

    A Bold Move For Mr. Sedaris.

    The previous essays of David Sedaris have set a high expectation for what we, as readers, can expect from him. Until now, his books have all been exporations of the human condition by analysis of his childhood and adult life, his family and friends, and his difficulties learning the languages of French and love. They have been both entertaining and profound.

    In his new series of essay David Sedaris takes our expectations and turns them on thier heads...sort of. I read a number of review of this book before I ultimately decided to purchase it. To my surprise most of them were fairly negative and critical. The one thing these reviews had in common was that this book was a major departure from his musings on Homo Sapiens.

    I think that, in this day and age, for an artist to depart from what made him/her popular is a rarity that is to be applauded. Does this book lack some of the charm that makes it easy to identify with Sedaris's earlier works? Yes, but it also shows Seadaris's willingness to challenge himself as a writer. It is evident reading these stories that David Sedaris has thought very deeply on the ways animals live, and their relationships to other members of the animal kingdom. What I found most interesting was the profound messages he puts into these stories. Everything from how marriage works through the eyes of a faithful dog, to the inability to cope with loss and the repercussions thereof in the experience of a baby bear cub, and the extremes of parental honesty and its effects as shown by two pelican sisters.

    Every story in this book has a nugget of wisdom, or something to chew on. They are not all funny, and some of them have some very graphic descriptions...but hey, that's life.

    Bravo Mr. Sedaris!

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2010

    disappointing

    Do not spend the money. This is very simplistic and a waste of time.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2010

    Stupid book

    I need to learn to take advantage of the "review" before I order a book. This book was really quite ridiculous. I'm glad it was only 82 pages long because I couldn't wait to finish it (I believe in finishing what I begin), and get it archived so I wouldn't have to look at it again!!!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 14, 2010

    Awful Book

    Against my better judgement, I read the whole book in hopes of finding a redeeming quality. There isn't one. The stories are twisted, pointless and most end abruptly. Not to mention poorly written. As a David Sedaris fan, I was very disappointed.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2010

    Dark and Dismal Disappointment

    David Sedaris can make even the most horrific family situation laughable, so why did he go down this incredibly dark path in this book. Yes, it is about animals, but the are there only to mirror some of humanity's worst faults and foibles. I read as far as the story where the crow plucks out and eats the eyes of a baby lamb before quitting. Sorry, David......I love you--have read all your books and seen you at two readings, but this is a huge disappointment.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2010

    DONT JUDGE THIS BOOK BY IT'S COVER

    A VERY CUTESY COVER THAT ATTRACTS RIGHT AWAY. HUMAN ATTRIBUTES ARE GIVEN TO THE ANIMALS BUT EVEN THOUGH YOU WILL GET THE POINT BEING MADE IN THESE STORIES THEY RANGE FROM A COUPLE WELL DONE TALES TO THE REST THAT RANGE FROM DISGUSTING TO ANIMAL MUTILATION. EVEN THE ART WORK IS GRAPHIC AND UNAPPEALING. OVERPRICED AND A SAD EFORT. NOT THIS YEARS STOCKING STUFFER UNLESS YOU HAVE A LOT OF ENEMIES

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2011

    Very entertaining!

    My only gripe is that it's too short. I loved it though

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2011

    Great satire read

    If you're into the dark and morbid satire, then this book is for you. Enjoyed the short stories.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Just finished

    this was a very good book. like a modern day Aesop Fabkes

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2011

    The magic of David Sedaris

    Ever the sick and twisted, but hilarious, writer of daily observations, Sedaris has done it again! The stories in this little collection are funny, charming, and create wonderful mental pictures of what life would be like in a humanized animal kingdom. I'll never look at my pets the same way again. The only drawback is that the book is so short. Keep the stories coming David ... we could all use a good laugh in these troubled times.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Hysterical, yet deep

    David Sedaris, well-known for his satirical writing style, is back with a "modest bestiary." Bestiary tales, for those unfamiliar with the term, are moral fables usually told about animals or mythical creatures. Sedaris uses a huge array of all different animals to tell some of the funniest moral tales I've ever read.

    The book is chock full of these fantastically funny tales: a squirrel who dates a chipmunk, a mouse who thinks a snake is her baby, a grooming baboon, storytelling warblers, rats that live in a lab, storks learning the ropes of parenting and much much more!!

    One of the most awesome things about this book was that even in its childlike style, it tackles some larger issues. For example, one of the stories is about a female chipmunk who dates a male squirrel. The chipmunk's family does not agree with the relationship because they are different species. They force her to break up with him, but over the course of her lifetime she always thinks back on him. Some people won't read beyond the simple humor in the story, but deeper thinkers can see this as possibly representing a bi-racial relationship. Lots of the stories are like the squirrel and chipmunk story: on the surface they're fun and humourous tales, but deep down they do have a moral and deeper meaning. Having an adult write a book of morals for adults with a humorous slant is absolutely genius. It takes the problems/issues we face as adults and shows us how to do the right thing, much like how we learned morals in our childhoods.

    I would be completely remiss if I did not mention the fabulous illustrations by Ian Falconer. Falconer is most known for the Olivia series he created, wrote, and illustrated. While Sedaris' writing can definitely stand alone, it is Ian Falconer's illustrations that truly take the book to the next level. The drawings are just as humorous and twisted as the stories themselves. Sedaris and Falconer are a match made in literary history.

    If you have never read a David Sedaris book then I would definitely suggest this one as your first. You will not be disappointed in his writing style at all. The book is a quick, fast-paced read that you won't be able to put down. Definitely give it a shot!

    Kimberly (Reflections of a Book Addict)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An interesting perspective of our life from the eyes of animals!

    If animals were more like us, if mice kept pets and toads could swear, 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 rates and kitties.

    "I found the book to be most droll," might quip the bear, the owl, and 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."

    In the newest book, Squirrel Seek Chipmunk, by David Sedaris, you are taken into our everyday lives as seen by certain animal groups. While the story is interesting to see from another perspective, the reader needs to be forewarned that the book is rather graphic despite its childlike cover. Do not make the mistake of thinking this is a child's book. Due to the explict nature of the storyline, I would rate this book a 2 out of 5 stars.

    Some of the story interactions besides a squirrel on a blind date with a chipmunk, are a mouse and snake trying to locate a missing relative, the migrating warblers who talk about immigration and people coming to nest in their neck of the woods, as well as many others.

    I received this book compliments of Hachette Book Groups for my honest review and think that this book is for a very select audience of readers. This book is available in hardcover, eBook, Audio, CD and large print formats.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Icepelt

    Chases down rabit.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    not what it seems!

    The cover of the book gives you a false sense of security that this is a cute love story. It is actually more like American Horror Story-Aesop's Fables. The stories seem to have a moral or ethical lean to them, but the many of the stories are gory, disgusting, and just sad. Do NOT waste your time and money. If you want to read it, read it for free at the library.

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  • Posted September 20, 2013

    Great Collection of Modernized Fables

    This book made me laugh out loud so many times. Sedaris is so clever and witty there is never a dull moment!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    Fire

    Gtgtb bbt...he folds his wings around him and chipmunk..sleeping.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2013

    Chipmunk

    She wakes up and sees Fire still sleeping, she quietly grabs a hunch of fish and sets it by the counter on the floor. She grabs her belt with her weapons on it and she goses out to hunt.

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