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Reviewed by Shrabastee Chakraborty for Readers' Favorite
In a serene and spectacular Appalachian gorge teeming with wildlife, the animals could cross the river to roam between the southern and the northern sides. However, the humans built a highway intersecting the ancient animal trails, where speeding cars and trucks claimed numerous lives each year. The animals passed a decree to avoid the ‘Human Highway.’ This law, while reducing the death rate, hugely restricted their movements. Frustrated with limited options for food and mates, the animals desperately search for a safer way to cross the road. A Search for Safe Passage, written by Frances Figart and illustrated by Emma Dufort, is based on an actual place where Interstate-40 cuts through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A Search for Safe Passage has something in store for readers of all ages. The story will keep a younger audience engrossed with its engaging plot and talking animals. Dufort’s expressive, lush illustrations further add to the charm. However, Frances Figart’s lessons in ecology and wildlife conservation in the guise of a story amazed me the most. She presented the terrifying issues of habitat destruction and fragmentation by human encroachment in a simplistic way. At the same time, she provided a look at the rich biodiversity of the National Park and incorporated a plethora of information on the animals, including the bear’s eating habits, the elk’s migratory pattern, and the salamander’s regeneration of its tail. I loved the “Meet the Real Animals” section consisting of actual photographs and short biographies of each animal mentioned in the story. Figart introduced the concepts of geographical and human-made barriers, elucidating how they affect the fauna. The knowledge of various conservation efforts wildlife biologists employ all over the world will enrich young readers. I wholeheartedly recommend this educational and enchanting read to everyone out there.