In the ""Earthkeepers"" series, a true hero of the environmental movement gets his due in a simply phrased biography. Mendes, leader of the nonviolent movement to save the Brazilian rain forest, was gunned down by cattle ranchers just a few years ago. DeStefano gives a sympathetic account of his work, covering Mendes's organization of campaigns (as well as his public-relations efforts to attract world attention); the diversity of rain-forest life; its importance to humanity; the destruction threatening it; and the semifeudal living conditions of the rubber-tappers. Although her style plods a bit, she depicts the drama of the conflict fairly; readers who stick with her account will come to appreciate the enormous forces opposing Mendes and the scope of his achievements. Printed in large type and illustrated with b&w line drawings. Glossary; index; but no bibliography.