Back From The Brink

Saving Animals From Extinction

How could capturing the last wild California condors help save them? Why are some states planning to cull populations of the gray wolf, despite this species only recently making it off the endangered list? How did a decision made during the Civil War to use alligator skin for cheap boots nearly drive the animal to extinction?

Back from the Brink answers these questions and more as it delves into the threats to seven species, and the scientific and political efforts to coax them back from the brink of extinction. This rich, informational look at the problem of extinction has a hopeful tone: all of these animals’ numbers are now on the rise.


Paperback Edition now on shelves. 

Honors and Awards:

  • Eureka Nonfiction Book Awards – CA Reading Assoc. – Silver Honor
  • Nerdy Book Club – Long Form Nonfiction
  • Green Earth Book Award Shortlist 
  • 2019 Dorothy Canfield Fisher VT Book Award
  • Sigurd F. Olsen Best Nature Book Award Honorable Mention 2018
  • Garden State Teen Book Award 2020 Nominee
  • El Dia de Los Ninos/El Dia De Los Libros, 2013-2023, Selection 2019, ALSC

Book Extensions: 

Research in the Galapagos

Behind the Book:

Do you ever feel sad or anxious when you hear news about wildlife? I do. Our planet is currently experiencing many, many extinctions. Scientists refer to it as the sixth great extinction. When I hear news like this I need to turn my thoughts to the good news, the stories of wildlife recovery. That’s why I wrote this book. It is as much for me as it is for you. I know that we can all make a difference. BACK FROM THE BRINK is a collection of good recovery stories. It’s about conservation optimism. My hope is that when you and I read them it gives us the hope that we can change the planet and prevent some of these extinctions from happening in the future.

This was one of my favorite books to research because it brought me to fascinating places and to people who inspire me. I hope they’ll inspire you too!

★ ”[Castaldo] offers solid, meaningful suggestions for young readers […] 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.”–Kirkus, STARRED review

★ ”Readers will be moved by Castaldo’s appreciation for these animals.”–Booklist, STARRED review

“An intimate and optimistic look at humans’ ability to protect the planet’s biodiversity.”–Publishers Weekly

“Overall, I thought this was a great book to help students understand how species conservation has worked for these species, and the hard work involved in conserving a species.  Hearing these stories may help budding conservationists envision a future where they could do the same.” — EcoLitBooks 

“At a moment in history when the Endangered Species Act is under siege, Back from the Brink kindles interest and commitment towards preserving animal diversity in the natural world. Castaldo describes how many different factors have pushed seven species towards extinction and illustrates what has been done to reverse this trend. A complex web of circumstances: climate, geography, predators, food, and politics hold these animals’ lives in the balance. Creative thinking on the part of scientists and environmental activists has resulted in solutions that will surprise (and delight) readers young and old. Remarkable photographs taken by the author herself accompany these compelling stories.–CJ” — NerdyBookClub – Nerdie for Long Form Nonfiction