cover image Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Sebastian Meschenmoser, trans. from the German by David Henry Wilson. NorthSouth (IPS, dist.), $18.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4156-7

Meschenmoser’s story opens as a wheel of yellow cheese rolls off its wagon, hurtles off a cliff, and lands on a branch outside a squirrel’s home. In the same sort of misidentification that drove Meschenmoser’s Waiting for Winter, Mr. Squirrel concludes that the yellow cheese is the moon, and worries that he’ll be fingered as its thief: “He’d be arrested and thrown in prison.” A silent spread pictures the squirrel’s fears with mordant humor as he appears in a small prison uniform, reflecting remorsefully as his human cellmate works on a piece of embroidery. (Further inspection reveals a miniature squirrel-sized latrine along the back wall.) The action heats up as a hedgehog, billy goat, and crew of mice join the fray (further crowding the imaginary prison cell of the conscience-stricken squirrel) until they can work out how to put the cheese back where it belongs. Meschenmoser’s soft pencil portraits of the squirrel’s inner fears teeter right at the sweet spot between anguish and humor. The story’s deepest pleasure comes from the contrast between its ever-more-ridiculous scenarios and the artist’s solemn, classically proportioned drafting style. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)