Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife (Meeg Pincus)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife, written by Meeg Pincus and illustrated by Alexander Vidal, the true story of P-22, the famous mountain lion of Los Angeles’s Griffith Park.

P-22 (P for “puma”, 22 for his ID number) found himself in a quandary when it came time to establish his territory as an adult male cougar. All of the available territory near his birthplace had already been claimed by other cougars, and the crowded city of Los Angeles had cut him off from more space. After managing to cross 20(!) lanes of LA traffic, P-22 finds himself in a wooded area far smaller than a typical mountain lion territory – but it will have to do. And so, P-22 became the “Hollywood cougar” of Griffith Park, a mascot for urban wildlife and prime example of the need for wildlife bridges – structures that span highways to allow for safe, natural animal crossings – in cities.

Informative. The narrative follows P-22’s life story, including a few somewhat serious misadventures – such as getting trapped in the crawl space of a house and eating one of the LA Zoo’s koalas – creating empathy with P-22 while emphasizing that he is a WILD animal. Interspersed are comments from Miguel Ordeñana and Jeff Sikich, wildlife experts who worked on P-22’s study, on how the cougar’s life was affected by humans and how he, in turn, inspired the public to support the funding of a LA wildlife bridge project. It’s an informative and educational tale, but please note, there’s no Hollywood ending for P-22: he never found the mate he sought in the story, and will likely pass on before the wildlife bridge is finished, making for a bittersweet ending. However, for older kids learning about wildlife conservation, it’s a compelling look at how urban encroachment affected one creature’s life. The illustrations are lovely, letting the reader view the world through the nocturnal cat’s eyes, with a clever seek-and-find element that features 20 species native to Southern California. The length is best for older bookworms and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, a unique story with an important message, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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