Following the success of their first children's book, the members of the San Pablo Bay Wildlife Refuge decided to start a new project that would allow children to understand the complex issue of endangered species and the environment around them. Last weekend the group celebrated the completion of a new children's book,"Sardis and Stamm" with a tour of the Antioch Dunes and a book signing event.

"This was a two-year project of people working together," said Francesca Demgen, president of the San Pablo Bay Wildlife Refuge.

"Sardis and Stamm" tells the story of the Lange's metalmark butterfly, a federally endangered species that can only be found at the Antioch Dunes Wildlife Refuge in Antioch.

The butterfly spends all of its short life close to their larval host and food plant, the Antioch Dunes buckwheat. Since the buckwheat plant is the same place that the butterflies perch, eat their nectar and lay their eggs, the butterflies never leave the area during their short lives of just a couple of summer months.

In the story of "Sardis and Stamm," written by Matthew Bettelheim and illustrated by Nicole Wong, one of the Lange's metalmark butterflies, "Stamm," is blown beyond the Antioch Dunes Refuge where the butterfly meets a young girl named Sardis, illustrated after model Rebeca Aguilar.

While "Sardis" works to help "Stamm" back to the Dunes and along the way the two discover a world of wildflowers and insects that call the Antioch Dunes home.

The book tells the history of the dunes and the importance of ensuring the fate of this one endangered species safe.

Bettelheim, a San Francisco Bay Area science writer, wildlife research biologist, and natural historian, was asked to write the children's book through his connections with Demgen and the San Pablo Bay Wildlife Refuge, which is the local lead group of the National Wildlife Refuges in the Bay Area.

"It has been a long two years and an amazing two years of working on this project with the intent to help protect a species," Bettelheim said. "It wouldn't have happened without Fran's hard work."

Wong created the likeness of the young girl "Sandis" in the book with the help of Aguilar.

Aguilar attended the debut of the book last Saturday by taking her first tour of the Dunes, as well as attending the book signing after at the tour at Big Break Regional Shoreline Park, in Oakley.

"I like the pictures," Aguirlar said.

Wong is a science illustrator who has a passion for nature.

"I am most fascinated by animals and their interactions, imagining how they experience the world and examining the ways in which humans relate to nature," she said.

For years Wong illustrated nature in the San Francisco Bay Area, but is now working on the East Coast doing science illustrations in Brooklyn, N.Y.

'Sardis and Stamm'
To order a copy by mail, send a check made out to the "Friends of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge," to the Friends of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Attention: "Sardis and Stamm," 7715 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, CA 94954. Mail-order books are $9.89 each, which covers the costs of tax and shipping and handling.