Tara & Bella

Tara & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
by Carol Buckley

After reading Owen & Mzee a few weeks ago, I decided to see what else I had in my library about unusual, extraordinary friendships. I remembered coming across this book before, but had not sat down to read it until today.

Tarra is an elephant who, after performing in circuses as well as television and movies, moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. The first of many elephants to live in the sanctuary, she never found a best friend like the other elephants did. Also living at this sanctuary were stray dogs, including Bella who, one day, decided to be Tarra’s friend. In a particularly emotional moment of this heartwarming story, Bella is injured and Tarra waits two days in the spot she was injured for her friend to return. When she doesn’t, Tarra makes her way to the barn where Bella is being treated to see her friend. The two are reunited and, fortunately, Bella recovered.

This book was published in 2009 and, naturally, after reading it I felt the need to learn what happened after the book ended. Sadly, Bella passed away in 2011 but Bella, now 42 years old, still lives at the Elephant Sanctuary, although recent news indicates a custody battle over her between the author of this book and the Elephant Sanctuary.

Books like this bring out my emotional side! I could not help but get teary during the part where Bella was injured and Tarra waited for her friend to return. I think it is so important for everyone, children and adults, to read books like this to see that differences should not get in the way of friendships. I am so excited to start working on my friendship themed unit, which will certainly include this book as well as Owen & Mzee.

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