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Elephant Secret

Last updated Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Author: Eric Walters
Date of Publication: 2019
ISBN: 1328796175
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2021

Synopsis: Sam was born and raised in an elephant sanctuary. When a beloved elephant dies giving birth, Sam develops a connection with baby Woolly - who isn't actually an elephant but was cloned from woolly mammoth DNA. And the billionaire genius behind the cloning experiment will stop at nothing to protect his investment. Smart, determined, and loving, Sam stands up to this powerful adversary to protect the sanctuary and her herd. In the best tradition of child-animal friendship stories, Elephant Secret explores the strong and complex bond between Sam and her elephants while offering a fascinating, authentic glimpse into elephant - and human - behavior.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Cloning means making an exact identical copy of a living thing. In Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, the first army of stormtroopers was created by cloning Jango Fett. Sometimes cloning happens naturally like when bacteria multiply.
•  The first animal to be cloned was a sheep name Dolly in 1996. Scientists can use clones to study diseases and save lives but there are many ethical concerns about cloning animals and people.


•  inflatable: capable of being blown up, filled with air
•  baling wire: a soft wire used in farming to hold bales of straw together, mend fences
•  culprit: the person or thing responsible for a wrongdoing, the cause for something bad
•  gait: the way and manner which a person or animal walk
•  sanctuary: a place that provides safety or protection for wildlife

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What do you think is more difficult - dealing with with the needs of a herd of fragile elephants or with the drama and friendships in middle school?
•  Sam is sad about Daisy Mae but what does she realize about life?
•  Why does she feel a kinship towards the baby who she names Wooly?
•  What do you think of Mercury's experiment?
•  Would you have taken Mercury's offer? Why or why not?

Craft ideas:
•  # Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!
•  Using the Zoom whiteboard together with the kids, create a thank you card for the Water Buffalo Club, then take a screen shot of it and email it to! Reading to Kids received a special, three-year grant from the Water Buffalo Club and we would like to share our sincere thanks by sending them digital thank you cards designed by our reading club participants.

You can incorporate their logo by downloading it from Read about using the Zoom whiteboard in the last pages of our Zoom Training Guide. You can learn how to take a screenshot at
•  Make a paper elephant with a moveable trunk:
•  Make an elephant bookmark:,/a>
•  Make a recycled cardboard elephant pull-toy

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!