Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Review #31: TARRA & BELLA by Carol Buckley

Pub. Date: September 2009
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Format: Hardcover, 32pp
Sales Rank: 9,085
Age Range: For infants or children in preschool
ISBN-13: 9780399254437
ISBN: 0399254439

Description (from the publisher):
Best friends come in all shapes and sizes!

After retiring from the circus, Tarra became the first resident of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. When other elephants moved in and developed close friendships, only Tarra remained independent— until the day she met a stray mixed-breed dog named Bella.

It was love at first sight as this unlikely duo became inseparable. They ate together, slept together, and even understood each other's language. And when Bella suffered a severe spinal injury, Tarra stayed by her side and was there for her until Bella regained her health.

Brilliant color photographs of Tarra and Bella at home in the Elephant Sanctuary deftly illustrate this inspiring story of companionship, and an informative note about the Sanctuary provides a great resource for parents and teachers.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

My Thoughts:
You can't go wrong with the story of TARRA & BELLA. A person would have to have a heart of stone not to be touched by this charming and true tale of an unlikely and enduring friendship between an elephant and a dog.

Tarra was the first elephant brought to live at the Elephant Sanctuary of Tennessee. As other elephants came to live there, they paired off into sets of best friends. For unknown reasons, and though Tarra served as a sort of matriach to the group, she never found that one special best friend -- at least, not among the elephants. One day Tarra befriended a stray dog, soon to be known as Bella, and the rest is history. They became inseparable.

The remarkable story of their friendship has been documented by the media and has helped to bring a lot of attention and support to the Elephant Sanctuary. (You can see some video by clicking the links below.)  This book provides a little background into Tarra's history, beautiful photographs of the best friends at play or companionably walking through the Sanctuary, as well as details of the occasion when Bella was seriously injured and how their friendship played a part in her recovery.

I don't understand why the publisher describes TARRA & BELLA as a book for infants through preschool. That's just plain silly! The kids at my house (who are 6 and 9) are in love with this book and have read it every day since we picked it up from the library. I myself have enjoyed reading it on my own. The photography is beautiful. The text is at a middle grade level. Sure, preschoolers will love the pictures of the animals, but I think older kids will appreciate the story of this unique friendship more than the littlest ones. I really like this book and the story it tells.

I would recommend this book for anyone with a particular interest in elephants and/or dogs, preservation, or conservation. It's obviously a great book for the classroom. 

Most of the links in this post lead to the website for the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennesee. At the site you can view more video and photos of Tarra and Bella as well as many of the other elephants who live at the Sanctuary. At the back of the book and at the website you can find more information about how the Sanctuary was established and ways in which you can support their efforts. They also have some gift shop items - tee shirt, caps, mugs, etc. to consider for the upcoming holidays. 

CBS Video

Oprah Video

Click here to visit the website of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.

About the author (from the publisher):
Carol Buckley is the cofounder and CEO of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. She is also the author of TRAVELS WITH TARRA and JUST FOR ELEPHANTS.


bermudaonion said...

That book looks wonderful. I love animal stories and these two look like they have a remarkable friendship.

librarypat said...

This is a wonderful organization. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Will have to order it. I hope many people follow the links and support this worthy cause.
librarypat at comcast dot net

Jeane said...

It looks like a lovely book, one I would enjoy sharing with my daughter, regardless of the age recommendation!

Zibilee said...

This sounds like a really great and heartwarming story! I love the fact that you loved it and I really think this would make a great book for me to put under the tree! Thanks for the great review!