AWI entered into a unique partnership with HarperCollins Children’s Books last year to produce educational materials on endangered species and what we can do to protect them. The partnership coincided with the launch of a new book series aimed at 3rd to 6th graders from Newbery Medal–winning author Katherine Applegate. (See AWI Quarterly, winter 2018.)
The first book in the series, Endling #1: The Last, told the story of Byx, a mythical creature whose doglike species, the “dairne,” has been hunted to near extinction. The just-released second book, Endling #2: The First, sees Byx and her friends undertake an epic quest in search of a hidden dairne colony. But they soon realize that the fate of the dairne is inextricably linked to that of other species.
“When one is endangered, all are in peril” is the theme of the Endling series. To bring that message home, this spring HarperCollins and AWI partnered once again to launch the “Save All Species” campaign. The campaign called upon kids to take action to help protect endangered species and support the Endangered Species Act. Students were encouraged to draw a picture of the endangered species that matters most to them and to comment about the importance of the species selected. Hundreds of middle school students participated in the sweepstakes, with a winning classroom selected from a random drawing.
Students drew everything from a blue-throated macaw to a chimpanzee to a southern river otter, and noted the importance of each species in its ecosystem. One student wrote that without large predators, “ecosystems can go haywire,” adding, by way of example, that “if wolves went extinct, the moose population would grow and they would eat more plants which would decrease the birds’ habitat and as a result the bird species could go down.”
The winning classroom— Lisa Brennan’s 5th Grade class from Clear Lake Elementary in Oxford, Michigan—was presented with a set of both Endling books for every child in the classroom and a Skype interview with author Katherine Applegate. Immediately following the interview Applegate tweeted, “Whenever I find myself fretting about the state of the world, I remind myself of the idealism and compassion displayed by young readers. The earth is going to be just fine if these kids have any say in it.” We couldn’t agree more.