Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Built To Restore

Repeatedly we humans go about our business, small and large, without regard for the effects on others around us.  We rarely tend to give thought to how our changes to the environment will impact those living in the wild.  Our alterations to their areas have a ripple response, upsetting long standing homes on the ground and in trees, feeding practices, and sleeping habits.  

One crucial element of their lives is how and where they move on a daily, seasonal, or yearly basis.  In our efforts to make our travel more advantageous, we have hindered their travel.  Crossings: Extraordinary Structures For Extraordinary Animals (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, October 13, 2020) written by Katy S. Duffield and illustrated by Mike Orodan is an extraordinary exploration of humans' efforts to make movement safer for the animals who reside with us on this planet.

Over, under, across, through.
Around the world, construction crews build
overpasses, underpasses, bridges, and tunnels---
ways for people to get from one place to another.

These overpasses, underpasses, bridges, and tunnels have greatly hindered the lives of animals.  Innovative thinkers across our globe have imagined, designed, and continue to build solutions.  In the north, along the Trans-Canada Highway, there are forty plus overpasses and underpasses which a variety of animals use.  Some of these animal pathways are fenced to safely direct those that use them.

Did you know that across the ocean in Africa, Kenya to be specific, an underpass now allows two separated groups of elephants to mingle?  Much like a giant spider web, rope bridges across a highway in Australia allow squirrel gliders to skillfully cross, protected from harm.  Have you heard of the red crabs who live on Christmas Island?  In numbers too high to count they leave the interior of the island making for the Indian Ocean to lay eggs once a year.  Bridges have been built for them.

Experts have conceived special little alleys for spotted salamanders, beneath human roadways, for them to use in the spring in the state of Massachusetts.  In Arizona coyotes and a host of other animals wander safely over a highway.  In case you might be wondering how they know where to build these special routes for animals, studies are conducted following prints and the scat left by local critters.

In order for pangolins to be able to get proper food, shelter, and find mates, a shapely bridge over the Bukit Timah Expressway allows them to maintain their lives in Singapore.  Through this book, we visit twelve spaces in twelve places around the world, fascinated by the strides made for our fellow animal companions.  It's an inspirational and hopeful look at what we can do if we make the right choices.

After the introductory sentences, questions and answers, for each entry Katy S. Duffield has a single bold statement on each two-page presentation.  Opposite or under each of these, she adds, in smaller print, a short paragraph offering more details.  Each of these sections are connected by repeating one (or more) of four important words which supplies a nice rhythm to Katy S. Duffield's informative narrative.  Here is one of those bold statements, followed by a partial paragraph.

Titi monkeys tightrope ACROSS blue rope bridges
that keep them safe above a Costa Rican road.

Costa Rica's smallest species of monkey, the
titi, is endangered.  A group of young people,
Kids Saving the Rainforest, found a solution to
help save them . . .

The dramatic open and matching dust jacket and book case quickly capture readers' attention.  The darkness of the overpass extends over the spine to the far, left side.  The setting sun highlights the movement of the adult cat over the road.  Lights from the fast-moving vehicles stream beneath it.  On the left section of the overpass on the back, two younger cats saunter behind their parent.  The color palette here is a prelude to the stunning artwork in the entire book.  The white title text is raised and varnished.

On the opening and closing endpapers, illustrator Mike Orodan features a single titi monkey sitting on a loop of blue rope, its long tail hanging toward the bottom of the page.  It is looking toward the sky in the background.  On the first set of pages the sky is streaked with dawn colors.  On the second set of pages, the sky has deepened in richer hues as the first stars twinkle above the single titi monkey with a child now clinging to its back.

On the title page with a white background, four animals highlighted in this book use the letters in the title text to move.  The majority of the images 

rendered by hand with graphite pencils and Adobe Photoshop

span two pages in breathtaking displays of animals around the globe, the dangers they face, and the structures made to assist them.  For these illustrations we are alternately brought close to the animals or move back for a more panoramic perspective.  

The details in the animals' characteristics are marvelous.  For many of them Mike Orodan uses a fine line of light to outline their forms.  His application of color fashions fabulous scenes.  Shadow and light are used masterfully.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture showcasing the blue penguins found in Oamaru, New Zealand.  A lighted tunnel was built so they could feed at the sea during the day and travel back to their young in the evening without crossing a dangerous highway.  On the left side is a close-up view of one of the penguins now in the tunnel.  On the right side three more penguins are entering the tunnel at different points, their size appropriately shown.  Beyond the opening of the tunnel is an exquisite scene of cliffs, the beach, the turquoise sea and the sky glowing from the setting sun.  That fading sunlight circles inside the beginning of the tunnel and bathes the penguins in gorgeous colors.

You will be educated.  You will be entertained.  This book, Crossings: Extraordinary Structures For Extraordinary Animals written by Katy S. Duffield with illustrations by Mike Orodan, is one to encourage others to take similar steps when presented with these situations.  It will promote discussions and further investigation.  At the close of the book are two more pages with additional information about each of the animals.  There is a selected bibliography and further reading section.  I highly recommend this title for your personal and professional collections.

By accessing the website of Katy S. Duffield by following the link attached to her name, you can discover more about her and her work.  Katy S. Duffield has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  Mike Orodan has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images, including the one I mention here as a favorite of mine.

This title and illustrator are featured at author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's site, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.  November 22, 2020

No comments:

Post a Comment