Border Crossings

Author Sneed B. Collard III (Waiting for a Warbler) and illustrator Howard Gray (Land of Giants) present with conviction and a keen reverence for biodiversity the threat to animals and plants posed by the U.S./Mexico border wall.

Readers first meet a male ocelot, padding across the ground in the dark of night. He heads toward Mexico and meets a long wall, one that "smells alien." A car approaches and he runs away, Collard noting that the creature will not successfully find a mate this year. This border wall runs nearly 2,000 miles between the United States and Mexico, threatening the survival of creatures portrayed by Gray, including pronghorn, javelinas and pygmy-owls. Gray brings intriguing perspectives--in the opening spread, readers see from the ground the ocelot's paws as it creeps silently along, with a backdrop of stars--and it is with precision that he captures these creatures as well as the flora and fauna of the border lands.

Collard's use of alliteration ("padded paws silently step across pebbled ground") draws in readers. He refers to the wall as an "ugly scar," and Gray depicts in several spreads its jagged edges interrupting sky and land. His use of panels on many spreads accelerates the action, and he captures light and shadow in especially evocative ways. The book closes with a glossary, tips for further reading and an author's note that provides more details, stressing the only way to protect the region and its treasures: "by letting others know that we care." --Julie Danielson, reviewer

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