By Rachel M. Anderson, Freelance Writer

 

(St. Louis Park, Minn.) - As Sondra and Richard Goodkind's 50th wedding anniversary was approaching, they knew they wanted to do something spectacular to celebrate but weren't sure what.

Richard wanted to take his wife to New Zealand, a country he had visited the year before with the couple's son. Sondra, meantime, was leaning towards the idea of going on an African safari. "I had heard from people I know who had gone on safaris what a wonderful time they'd had and that put the temptation in me to want to go there," says Sondra.

Safaris to Africa have been a popular adventure trip for hundreds of years. According to the Web site, www.eyesonafrica.net, the earliest safaris recorded took place in the 18th century and were primarily focused around the trading industry. By the turn of the 20th centurytheir purpose changed from a business focus to one of fun, adventure and exploration.

After doing a little research to determine which part of the African continent they wanted to see and meeting with a travel agent, Sondra and Richard began packing for their adventure. They boarded a plane and headed for Tanzania in early 2010.

One of their first memories of the trip is the education they got from their guide, Carlos, who let them know about the strong possibility that the wonderful animals they were about to see may soon be a thing of the past. "We learned that the way the world is developing, all the natural habitat the animals have is getting swooped up for commerce and housing, leaving them in a lurch. They will eventually die off if they don't have land to graze on and roam," says Sondra.

While in Africa, the Goodkinds enjoyed close encounters with animals that until the previous summer they had only seen in zoos "They were all magnificent, " says Sondra. "I thought the elephant was going to be my favorite animal, but by the time we left realized I had fallen more in love with the giraffe."

Richard says his favorite animal was definitely the elephant. "I got a pretty good picture of one as it came towards our jeep," he points out. Images of elephants aren't all he captured. He also took pictures of leopards and cheetahs, giraffes and zebras, rhinos, hippos, cape buffalo, crocodiles, baboons, wildebeest, antelopes, gazelles and crowned cranes.

When they returned home the Goodkinds looked through the notes Sondra had taken and the photos Richard had captured. The discovered they had enough material for a book.

Sondra got to work researching each of the animals they had seen and parks they had visited. Richard, meantime, started work on a painting that would grace the cover. The title they settled on, Empowering Children to Save the Wildlife of Africa.

The adventure begins in the classroom with Mrs. Gordon telling her students to close their eyes and imagine themselves on a plane about to land at Kilimanjaro Airport on the continent of Africa. "Shortly after they land, the kids hop into a specially equipped SUV, just like we did on our trip, and set off to explore Tanzania," says Sondra.

The students go everywhere the Goodkinds did during their trip, into Lake Manyara National Park, The Serengeti Plain and The Ngorongoro Crater. Sondra offers her readers vivid descriptions of the beautiful scenery and animals they saw at each park, then spends the rest of the book offering details about each of the animals.

At the end of the book, she suggests ideas on ways her readers can help save the animals of Africa, including putting on fundraisers and one day pursuing a career geared towards helping animals and people co-exist.

Barbara Goldfarb, a close friend of the Goodkinds, says she is very proud of Sondra for trying to make a difference. "Sondra is very caring and creative," she says. "When she and Richard got back from Africa she saw her trip as an opportunity to help save the animals by creating awareness among children all over the world."

"I'm hoping that kids will read the book, see the pictures, get excited about the animals and want to do something to help," says Sondra. 

Empowering Children to Save the Wildlife of Africa
is accompanied by a photo DVD set to music, featuring the animals Richard and Sondra saw during their trip. A portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to the organizations Sondra learned about while doing her research. Among them, The African Wildlife Foundation, The Wildlife Conservation Network and The World Wildlife Fund. 

Empowering Children to Save the Wildlife of Africa
retails for $19.95, and is available for purchase via Sondra's website,www.SondraSavesAfrica.com

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About the Author 

Sondra Goodkind has been writing for children for about a decade. Empowering Children to Save the Wildlife of Africa is her 18th book Her first book, Doodle Dot The Elephant, was written for her now 16-year-old grandson, Jacob, when he was 4-years-old. Among her other self-published titles, Corky the Crocodile, One Ugly Matzo Ball and Santa to the Rescue. Sondra Goodkind and her husband, Richard, live in St. Louis Park, Minn.

About the Illustrator

Richard Goodkind is the former director of the graduate program in prosthodontics at the University of Minnesota. Since retiring in 1997, he has been pursuing his passions for oil painting, fly fishing and freshwater planted aquariums.. He won the 2010 Minnesota Trout and Salmon Stamp design contest. 
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