The stories of seven Western Hemisphere species—headed toward extinction for different reasons and saved in different ways—introduce and explain issues involved in the preservation of endangered animals.
After a short introduction to the concept of extinction and the importance of the Endangered Species Act, Castaldo describes her visits to restoration centers for whooping cranes in Wisconsin; gray wolves, bald eagles, and American bison in New York; giant Galápagos tortoises in Ecuador; condors in California; and alligators in Florida. Her admiration and appreciation for these wild creatures and their human helpers permeate the gracefully written text. Chapter by chapter she explains why each species was in trouble, the often controversial restoration methods, and the results. The well-organized and convincingly presented narrative is supplemented with sidebars and enlivened with plentiful photographs, most taken by the author herself. She uses her examples as springboards to introduce and explain larger questions as well as to introduce important concepts such as the need for apex predators. She uses fresh, less-familiar quotations (Herman Melville on the giant tortoise!) and cites scientists both male and female, naturalists, and volunteers, including young people. A “Call to Action” offers solid, meaningful suggestions for young readers, and she concludes with 18 pages of backmatter including many, many learning opportunities: things to watch and read, organizations to investigate, websites and parks to explore.
Challenging but important reading for the intended audience. (notes, bibliography, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)