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Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Late, Great Endlings: Stories of the Last Survivors, written by Deborah Kerbel and illustrated by Aimee van Drimmelen. Orca, 2022. $21.95 ages 8 and up

"Until the 19th century, the passenger 
pigeon was the most plentiful bird in 
North America, its population numbering
in the billions. Historical accounts describe
migrating flocks so massive they darkened
the sky for hours as they passed overhead. 
Humans' overhunting quickly and 
drastically reduced their numbers, and by 
1914 only Martha was left.  She died at the 
Cincinnati Zoo, at age 29.

An endling is the last known surviving individual animal of a species. As we hear more and more about the species we are losing at an often-unprecedented rate, it is important to read about those amazing creatures we have already lost. They act as a reminder for the fragility of animals and their ancestors.

The author begins by mentioning the dodo, the great auk, and the dinosaur. Then she moves on to more readers many not recognize. Each endling is named and introduced in a short rhythmic poem. Along with mentioning the noted date of their becoming an endling, the author provides an informative paragraph concerning the reasons for their loss. Endlings presented include the passenger pigeon, the heath hen, the Pinta Island tortoise, the Carolina parakeet, the Tarmanian tiger, the Pyrenean ibex, the Polynesian tree snail, the Rabb's fringe-limbed tree frog, How many do you know? 

Dignified, realistic watercolor paintings were created using photos and preserved exhibits, and provide a face for these last known survivors. How many more will there be, and how can we help? It gives readers pause to think about the state of the natural world today. 

Final pages suggest the animals now threatened and perhaps extinct by 2050. By 2120, it has been suggested that '50 percent of all species on Earth now could face extinction'! Biggest threat? Habitat loss ... Finally, a list of seven ways kids can make a change to make a difference. Let's do it!  

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