Review: A Wild Promise, Illustrated and written by Allen Crawford, introduction by Terry Tempest Williams

Review by Sue Domis

 The Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon on December 28, 1973. Nixon wrote that the act provided the Federal government with the needed authority to "protect an irreplaceable part of our natural heritage--threatened wildlife.  And, nothing is more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed."                                                                                                                

     It has been 50 years since the Endangered Species Act's inception and there has been a gradual erosion of the act.  Just a few examples are: In 1970 the tiny perch known as the Snail Darter took on the Tennessee Valley Authority's construction of the Tellico Dam., and in the 1990's the Pacific Northwest's wholesale clearcuts versus the Spotted Owl.  The rights of the federal government versus the rights of private land owners sometimes conflict, for example the Bundy standoff at the Matheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2014.   But, the Act of 1973 still endures.

     A Wild Promise is a celebration of the Endangered  Species Act.       Crawford has written and beautifully illustrated an account of 82 species threatened.  The book is divided into six areas, mountain, ocean, desert, grassland, wetland and woodland. It opens with the mountain section and the Grizzly Bear.  The animals' general location, and existing population are given.  If possible, a count of the species population is given and if it is threatened, endangered or now is delisted because of its growing number.  Each animal or insect is brightly painted with some of its facts written in calligraphy.

     There are some species so threatened that this reader wants to cry at their loss.  But, there are also some successful stories such as the bald eagle and the American alligator.

     The author's purpose in presenting this book is to make the reader aware of the possible fate of so many lesser known endangered animals, many that exist in an isolated area and are on the brink of extinction.  Crawford hopes that we become aware of these endangered species near us.  There are over 1,400 species on the Endangered Species list.

       A Wild Promise is a book that fits many interests.  It is a great book for a classroom, or school and home libraries.  Art lovers will enjoy the artist- author's beautiful pictures.  Just a few examples of the entries is the Northern Sea Otter who is looking out with an inquisitive expression as he is holding a crab which he has just caught.  The California Condor appears fierce and quite dignified.  The Brown Pelican, who was delisted in 2009 is watching out from the post he stands on..  The Hammerhead Shark is quite odd-looking.  He is listed as endangered as of 2014.  In the Desert section the Mojave Desert Tortoise is listed as threatened with a rate of decline at 90% since 1980.  The Florida Panther and the Red Wolf are in the Wetlands section and they are both beautiful portraits, each is endangered.  The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is another beautiful picture.  It was listed as extinct, but recent evidence suggests possible survival.

      My favorite animals in the book are  Crawford's turtles and I enjoyed all of their pictures.  And these turtles are also sadly endangered.

      Crawford writes that he hopes that his book will bring attention to the imperiled species that he has illustrated and presented to the reader.  It is a book that would make a great gift for just about anyone.