The Beloved Dearly

The Beloved Dearly

Illustrated by: Tony DiTerlizzi
For Ages: 8 - 12
  • 5
Ernie is a twelve-year-old tycoon, always on the lookout for a fast buck. This time he stumbles onto a money-making bonanza: pet funerals. He hires Dusty to decorate the burial boxes and Tony to dig the holes, but his prize find is Swimming Pool, a tomboy who can cry on cue.
Business goes through the roof -- until Ernie loses Swimming Pool over a raise and the whole venture unravels. Here is a rollicking, fun-spirited novel about friendship, loss, business -- and how we learn to express our feelings.
  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689863547 | 
  • August 2003 | 
  • Grades 3 - 7
List Price $7.99 (price may vary by retailer)
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Reading Group Guide

Ernie, a twelve-year-old entrepreneur, has money on his mind. Although Ernie is used to going it on his own, his most lucrative moneymaking scheme -- a pet funeral business -- involves employees. This proves to cause a few disagreements as Ernie learns that money isn't everything.
Pets; Death; Funerals; Moneymaking scams; Friendship
€ Why were the neighborhood kids leery of Cat Lady? Was Ernie brave in going to see her? What did Cat Lady think about Ernie? Did Cat Lady help Ernie? If so, how?
€ How did Swimming Pool feel about her brother, Rick? Describe their relationship.
€ What would you have done if you were Swimming Pool and Ernie did not give you the raise he promised? Do you think that Swimming Pool deserved a raise? Did Ernie make a good business decision? Why or why not?
€ Dusty was a neutral friend of Ernie and Swimming Pool. Is there anything that he could have done differently to help the relationship between the two? Do you think that Ernie treated Dusty fairly for his share of work in the business? Why or why not?
€ Was Ernie a good businessman or did he take advantage of people? Explain.
€ Design your own theme for a pet funeral. Plan the entire funeral including the schedule, program, and any props to enhance your theme.
€ Write an obituary for a pet.
€ Write an advertisement see more

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About the Author

Doug Cooney

Doug Cooney is the author of the middle-grade novels The
Beloved Dearly
and I Know Who Likes You. His musical
adaptation of George Saunders's The Very Persistent Gappers of
recently premiered at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles,
produced by the Mark Taper Forum P.L.A.Y. Cooney also teaches songwriting
and collaboration for Voices Within, an educational outreach program of
the Los Angeles Master Chorale. He divides his time between Los Angeles
and South Florida. You can visit him at