7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #718: Featuring Mike Orodán

h1 November 22nd, 2020 by jules


“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. But what about the animals that live in these places?”

This is the opening of Katy S. Duffield’s splendid Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals (Beach Lane, October 2020), illustrated by Mike Orodán. Readers see creatures of all stripes misplaced by human-made constructions for the purposes of transportation — animals fearfully traversing under giant bridges, freezing in a car’s headlights, hiding from construction equipment, and more. But we also read that around the world, “in search of solutions, animal lovers come together.”

From this point on, the book’s spreads feature these creative solutions. A bull elk crosses the Trans-Canada Highway; elephants traverse an underpass that sits below Mount Kenya, and blue penguins in Oamaru travel through an underpass from the sea back to their nests; titi monkeys in Costa Rica make their way across thick blue ropes (created by Kids Saving the Rainforest) to move from one side of the road to another; coyotes in Arizona cross an overpass, safe from the traffic below; and much more. Large font showcases one-sentence statements from Duffield, ones in which the prepositions (over, across, under, through) are placed in all caps. The book’s pleasing structure is such that we read about animals that cross in that particular order of prepositions (over, across, under, through), which is repeated three times. (“Directional concepts get an ecological twist,” writes the Publishers Weekly review of this one.)

Duffield uses delicious verbs to keep readers engaged. A mama elephant “thunders” under a crowded road. Squirrel gliders “skitter” across woven rope bridges. Penguins “hustle.” Panthers “slip, slink UNDER the roar of traffic.” But each spread also includes a smaller chunk of text that provides more detailed information about the animals’ plight and human solutions to address the problem. A closing spread provides even more details about wildlife crossings around the world and also includes a selected bibliography and suggestions for further reading.

Orodán’s sleek, richly colored illustrations play with perspectives (we get more than one exciting aerial view of things) and bring us up close to the animals. We are crossing the blue ropes with the titi monkeys. We are at the other end of a tunnel through which bear cubs in Montana cross. We are right next to the pangolins, who “teeter-totter” across a Singapore expressway. We are right in front of a koala, who “saunters” on a ledge through a tunnel underneath a road in Australia. Orodán also beautifully depicts light; the book’s opening and closing endpapers are a testament to this. Animals get all the attention in these sprawling full-bleed spreads; when humans are depicted, they are shown in circular vignetes on two spreads with ample white space.

I love this book’s very concept. And the former school librarian in me cannot help but imagine the multiple ways it can be used in classrooms. It’s a STEM book (for obvious reasons). It’s an English Language Arts book (what with its emphasis on prepositions and its precise, powerful text). And, well … it’s also a book for anyone at anytime, given the compassion that surges through its pages.

Here are some spreads so that the art and text can do the talking. …


“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.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“But what about the animals that live in these places?”
(Click spread to enlarge)


“A bull elk picks his way through evergreens OVER a noisy Canadian highway.”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Squirrel gliders skitter ACROSS woven rope bridges
stretched high above an Australian freeway.”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Blue penguins hustle home to their chicks
THROUGH a tiny tunnel beneath the New Zealand pavement.”

(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


CROSSINGS: EXTRAORDINARY STRUCTURES FOR EXTRAORDINARY ANIMALS. Text copyright © 2020 by Katy S. Duffield. Illustrations copyright © 2020 by Mike Orodán and reproduced by permission of the publisher, Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, New York.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

1) I enjoyed writing over at the Horn Book this week about international picture books.

2) I took two classes this Fall (I’m taking some NYU copyediting classes), and both are DONE!

3) I finally got the Captain Janeway ornament I’ve always wanted:



4) I had one of those long, your-belly-hurts, you-can’t-breathe, tears-are-streaming-down-your-face, you-might-choke-on-your-food laughs earlier this week (and it lasted about ten minutes), because of a joke my husband made at dinner.

5) I made this cake! Because why not?



6) Long (masked, socially-distanced) walks with friends.

7) This piece of art below from Paola Parsons. (Speaking of Stacey Abrams AND Janeway, do you know she finds inspiration in the character of Captain Kathryn Janeway?)



What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #718: Featuring Mike Orodán”

  1. I LOVE this Connections book, both for the gorgeous illustrations and important concept, but also for the great sneaky infusion of grammar — do you remember an old Kate Dukes book of hamsters and prepositions?
    How was the cake? Most English cakes benefit from sitting for a few days (“cut and come again”), so i’m curious!
    Good for Blaine for making you laugh that hard — best medicine you could have had!
    Happy Thanksgiving to your whole bunch — We’re trying to set up Zooms for various points this weekend, so that we don’t tie up the phone for our 3 kids and theirs (Zoom #1) and my 6 siblings and their progeny (the 2nd zoom)…
    xoxox, mcs

  2. What an interesting book. I think students would love knowing how crossing were adapted to help animals. The art work is cool. Love the glider squirrels.
    Jule, I’m glad you featured some books that aren’t eligible for Caldecott. Diane White’s book is lovely.
    Kick number 4, we need more of these in the world. How was the Earl Grey cake? Would you make it again?
    My kicks:
    1. I started a class through Cal State University Channel Island on The Island of the Blue Dolphins. They have some great Zoom classes offered. This looks at the history and the archeological aspects of the book. Fascinating.
    2. I put up one of those holiday light kaleidoscope
    on our deck.
    3. Celebrating oldest grandgirl this week for her 16th.
    4. Impromptu coffee and social distance time on a friend’s porch.
    5. Bringing a chai latte to a teacher friend.
    6. Keeping with #gratiku in my notebook.
    7. Time with a friend this week.
    Have a great week.

  3. Hello, Imps! Have a safe and happy holiday season.

    Hello to Mike and the Extraordinary Animals. So grateful to everyone who helps construct and maintain these structures and passageways to ensure the safety of the animals! Coincidentally, I saw this footage of a wildlife overpass just last night – https://twitter.com/KUTV2News/status/1330134114817675267

    Jules: Congrats on finishing your classes, and on the article, and the cake, and the laughter! Enjy the ornanment, the walks, and the art. Isn’t it neat when someone you admire shares an interest of yours? Just makes them cooler.

    Mary: May your Zooms go smoothly!

    Jone: Happy birthday to her! Glad you got time with family and friends. Have fun in class, and enjoy the lights!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Happily surprised
    2) Surprisingly simple
    3) Managing expectations
    4) Managing schedules
    5) Staying steady
    6) Helping yourself
    7) Warm broth and warm beverages

  4. What a wonderful book! This is one of those books where I’ll be buying copies for younger friends and a copy for myself too.

    Jules – what a good week! Cake! Laughing til you can’t breathe is just the best – here’s to more of those in the future!

    Mary – happy thanksgiving & yay for Zoom thanksgivings this year

    Jone – that class sounds fascinating! how was it? hooray for 16th birthdays and holiday lights!

    Little Willow – thank you sharing that tweet & video! That was so cool. Hooray for happy surprises and surprisingly simple! May you keep cozy with warm broth and beverages over the holidays!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Doing a live-streaming exercise class yesterday morning. Fun workout and great way to start the day.
    2) Walks with Daisy.
    3) Letters in the mail with sweet surprises.
    4) New Mandalorian and new His dark Materials.
    5) Doing Thanksgiving with Daisy so ordered a pumpkin soup kit from a local restaurant, as well as some other goodies – happy to shop local and not cook.
    6) Looking forward to Happiest Season on Hulu – great cast and I’m ready for full immersion into holiday movies.
    7) This made me laugh & I feel like my order is in that same spirit: https://twitter.com/Remember_Sarah/status/1329749822098685952

    Have a safe and happy holidays everyone!

  5. Hi Everyone! Great kicks all around. I love this book. I remember when Faraway Fox was part of the Calling Caldecott discussion the year it came out. My students were transfixed and some researched ways to create safe passage for animals. I am really looking forward to sharing this book.
    My Kicks:
    1. Loving and satisfying family Zoom calls this past week.
    2. Reading We Are Grateful by Traci Sorell to all my classes during synchronous library time this week. Such a beautiful book. I am grateful to her and the Cherokee Nation for teaching us all about gratitude.
    3. Finished Apple in the Middle – a touching upper 4-6 grade novel – that I loved so much I’m having trouble deciding what to read next.
    4. Enjoying watching my 14 year old learning about sleep walking and reenacting scenes from family sleep walking stories.
    5. A week off from school is here – enjoying less screen time for everyone.

    Wishing everyone a fantastic Thanksgiving!

  6. Mary and Jone, the cake was good. I don’t know that I’ll make it again, though. The Earl Grey tea was STRONG-tasting. Have fun on your Zoom calls, Mary! (And, no, I’ve never heard of this Kate Dukes book!)

    Jone, what a good week with friends and family and holiday lights and learning new things.

    LW: I like those first two kicks, in particular. What’s your favorite warm beverage?

    Rachel: I figured you’d really like this book. … Thanks for the reminder about that movie. I’d like to see that too. … We thought we’d see Ahsoka on The Mandalorian last week, but I guess we have to keep waiting.

    Allison: My youngest daughter has that problem with books (if you can call it a “problem”): If she reeeeally loves a book, she is so concerned the next one will not be as good, so then she ends up rereading, say, an old series again. … Hope you enjoy the screen-free week off from school!

    Have a great holiday, everyone!

  7. And thanks for that tweet, Little Willow! So neat to see that.

  8. Jules: Cocoa!

  9. LW: the video was so cool. Hooray for warm broth and warm food.
    Rachel: The class is interesting. Three more classes after Thanksgiving. Hugs for Daisy and yay for pumpkin soup.
    Allison, enjoy your time off.
    Jules, I agree about Earl Grey. I drank it all the time when I was younger but now, it’s too much.

  10. LW: We have a steamer to make our cocoa — best purchase I ever made!

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