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The Beloved Dearly

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 for one of the jobs in the story.
    € Choose a character and write a persuasive letter asking your boss for a raise.
    € Research salaries of interesting jobs.
    € Create a 3-D tombstone for one of the pet funerals. Do research to find out what information is included on a tombstone.
    This reading group guide is for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
    Prepared by Theresa Love
    © William Allen White Children's Book Award
    Please visit for more information about the awards and to see curriculum guides for other master list titles.

More Books From This Author

Leading Ladies
Nobody's Perfect
I Know Who Likes You
The Broken Ornament
The Complete WondLa Trilogy
The Battle for WondLa
A Hero for WondLa

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