The Beloved Dearly


Doug Cooney

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Minimum grade level: 


Ernie is a twelve-year-old tycoon, always on the lookout for a fast buck. He rents skateboards, he sells used homework, he underwrites booger insurance. At the start of the book, Ernie's just watched another business venture go belly-up: (Read the last paragraph on page 1 until ".Ernie landed in the principal's office.") After the cheeseburger catastrophe, Ernie thinks up his best idea yet: 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 delivers a crying jag not to be missed. But just when things are looking good, disaster strikes. Are Ernie's dreams of wealth dead and buried?

Discussion questions

  1. Ernie is always dreaming up get-rich-quick schemes. Have you ever started a business? What was your idea and how did it turn out?
  2. Ernie's surprised to learn that funerals cost money. Did it surprise you to find out that people make money by giving funerals? What do you think about that?
  3. What makes Ernie's funerals a success? Is any one person - Ernie, Dusty, Tony or Swimming Pool - responsible for the success?
  4. Cat Lady gets angry at Ernie the first time she meets him, but later we learn she kept his advertisement for pet funerals. Why?
  5. Why does Swimming Pool decide to take the job as crier?
  6. How does she try to make herself cry during the Chester Playboy Bunny's funeral? What finally works?
  7. Swimming Pool and Dusty think up an elaborate way to give money to Rick. What do they do? Why? Is this a good solution?
  8. Does Ernie take advantage of people?
  9. Did Ernie make a good business decision when he refused to give Swimming Pool the raise?
  10. Which character are you most like in the book? Why?
  11. What happens at the end of the book? What does Ernie learn?

If you like this book, try

  • The Confe$$ion$ and $ecret$ of Howard J. Fingerhut by Esther Hershenhorn
  • I Know Who Likes You by Doug Cooney
  • Double Fudge by Judy Blume
  • Amelia Works It Out by Marissa Moss
  • Owen Foote, Money Man by Stephanie Greene


Ben & Jerry's ice cream

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.