Back from the Brink: Saving animals from extinction, by Nancy F. Castaldo
176 pages; ages 10-12. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018
“We are not alone on this great spinning planet,” writes Nancy Castaldo. “Alongside us are countless creatures with whom we share the earth’s space and resources. Sometimes we collide, and when we do, it’s usually the animals that lose out.”
In the introduction, Nancy discusses preservation, the Endangered Species Act, and how humans can work together to help repair some of the damage done to wildlife populations. Individual chapters highlight whooping cranes, gray wolves, bald eagles, the giant Galapagos tortoises, American alligators, California condors, and American bison.
Having never had the opportunity to visit the Galapagos, I was intrigued to learn about the tortoises. They are big – weighing 500 or more pounds – and live a long time. One tortoise, owned by Charles Darwin in 1835, died in 2006! These tortoises are crucial member of their ecosystems, Nancy writes. They help distribute seed for plants that, in turn, provide food for birds and lizards.
The problem: goats. Goats introduced to the islands have destroyed the forests that provide important shade and moisture for the tortoises. People brought goats to the island; people can help remove them so the island ecosystem can recover and provide a safe home for the tortoises. Nancy shows how that is happening on one of the island, allowing tortoises to come back from the brink of extinction.
I love the way Nancy ends with a Call to Action. There are specific things that people – even kids – can do to help preserve wildlife. For example, planting native plants could help save endangered butterflies. Making sure your microtrash (bottle caps and other small plastic bits) ends up in the trash bin keeps plastic out of the mouths of wildlife. Preserving wetlands in your area will help the birds and other wildlife that depend on those habitats. Reducing the use of herbicides and other pesticides will keep birds – and humans – healthier.
It’s STEM Friday! (STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)
Copyright © 2018 Sue Heavenrich All Rights Reserved.