Review of Crossings and Cougar Crossing

Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals
by Katy S. Duffield; illus. by Mike Orodán
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp.    g
10/20    978-1-5344-6579-4    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6580-0    $10.99

Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife
by Meeg Pincus; illus. by Alexander Vidal
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    40 pp.    g
2/21    978-1-5344-6185-7    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6186-4    $10.99

With human development leading to urban sprawl, suburban expansion, and the building of multi-lane highways, wild animals have increasingly limited access to their natural habitats. In Cougar Crossing, the impact of urbanization is represented by a lone mountain lion, named P-22, who resides in Los Angeles. P-22, the “Hollywood cougar,” was born in Santa Monica, in an area where all territory was occupied by other cougars; he has no choice but to find space in the city of Los Angeles, and constantly bumps up against human homes, zoos, highways, and diseases. P-22’s situation is leveraged to advocate for the building of a cougar bridge, an accessible connector for trapped wild animals to access open spaces. Examples of successful animal bridges, as well as other innovative structures, can be found in Crossings, where Duffield showcases not only wildlife overpasses but also the many creative structures used to get animals safely “over, under, across, [and] through” human-made barriers. Squirrel gliders in Australia and titi monkeys in Costa Rica use rope bridges to cross above highways; spotted salamanders in Massachusetts and blue penguins in New Zealand tunnel under them. Both books employ bold illustrations of the featured animals in unnatural urban environments, using the animal crossings, and safely living in less populated environs. Duffield’s book concludes with a spread of “Wildlife Crossings Around the World” and a brief bibliography; back matter in the Pincus includes a timeline of mountain lions in Los Angeles, cougar facts, information about wildlife crossings, identifications of “Wildlife of Southern California,” and a bibliography.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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