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BLAST Elementary
Tarra & Bella

Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
Text and Photography by Carol Buckley

When Tarra the elephant retired from a life in show business, she became the first resident at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. As more elephants came to live at the Sanctuary, they each sought out someone to spend most of their time with - a best friend.

But Tarra never found a best friend - that is, until a fiesty stray dog named Bella appeared at her side. The two became inseparable, and even when calamity struck and Bella was hurt, Tarra and Bella got through it by sticking together.


Open-Ended Questions

These questions can be used during an interactive read aloud to engage student interest.

  • Why did Tarra deserve a different life? (page 4)
  • What do you like to do with your friends? (page 12)
  • Why didn't Tarra leave that spot when Bella was hurt? (page 16)
  • How was Tarra able to find Bella? (page 20)
  • How can spending time with Tarra be medicine for Bella? (page 26)

Vocabulary Words

  • Sanctuary
  • Reunited


Unlikely Friends

Tarra and Bella are just a couple of unusual animal friends. A quick Google search reveals animal friends of all shapes, sizes, and species. In fact, the National Geographic channel has an entire show about unlikely animal friends. Read about some of these unusual companions with your students. Then compare and contrast the animal friends using Venn Diagrams. You can also have the students use Venn Diagrams to compare and contrast their own friendships. Do they notice any similarities between their own friendships and the animal friendships?


Journal Question

  • Why are your friends important to you?

Extending Books

Just for Elephants
Written by Carol Buckley







Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again
Told by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff

Describes the rescue and rehabilitation of a young Atlantic bottlenose dolphin who received an artificial tail after being badly injured when caught in a crab trap.

Written by Catherine Thimmesh

This book offers a photo exploration of unlikely animal friendships, which not only gives readers insight into animals but challenges preconceived notions about compatibility.