Doug Cooney is the author of the middle-grade novels
Beloved Dearly and I Know Who Likes You. His musical
adaptation of George Saunders's The Very Persistent Gappers of
Frip 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 www.dougcooney.com.
Tony DiTerlizzi is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and illustrator who has been creating books for twenty years. From fanciful picture books, such as Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-This-World Moon-Pie Adventure and The Spider and the Fly (a Caldecott Honor Book), to fantastic middle grade novels like Kenny & the Dragon and the WondLa trilogy, Tony imbues each story with his rich imagination. He created The Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black, which has sold millions of copies around the world. You can learn more about Tony at DiTerlizzi.com.
Cooney recasts his stage play of the same name as a debut novel featuring a funny, offbeat premise. When Ernie Castellano is busted at school for one of his get-rich-quick schemes hawking cheeseburgers on mystery meat day he's grounded. The discovery of an empty lot proves irresistible to the young entrepreneur, however, and soon he's sneaking behind his father's back to start a pet funeral business. With the help of a handful of employees, including a scruffy nine-year-old artist who makes the caskets, and Swimming Pool, a professional mourner who can cry on demand, business is soon booming. But Ernie grows increasingly dictatorial and estranged from his new friends, and not until the death of his own dog does he learn there's more to value in life than cold hard cash. Cooney's background as a playwright is evident in the tight arc of the story and in the snappy dialogue. Some of the zaniness has an edge of forced hilarity, and some characters are cliched including the fast-talking Ernie ("Tell Mom and Dad you're going to a movie, you need the popcorn, score the ten bucks, and give little Frisky the send-off he deserves"). But the themes are credibly developed and the ending in particular has emotional resonance. This is a likable story with solid appeal. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 4-7-Twelve-year-old Ernie Castellano is a real wheeler and dealer. After getting busted again at school for his plan for making big bucks (previous plans included selling booger insurance and used homework), his father tells him no more business schemes are allowed. However, Ernie spots an empty lot that would make a perfect cemetery and starts a pet funeral business. He hires Dusty, who enthusiastically decorates theme caskets for animals. Ernie also hires Swimming Pool, a tomboy who is trying to deal with her older brother leaving home due to family tensions. A number of successful funerals ensue as Ernie becomes increasingly hard-hearted toward his employees and customers. His callousness causes Swimming Pool to quit, while Dusty tries to repair the trio's friendship. It isn't until Ernie's elderly pet, Mr. Doggie, dies and the funeral business is discovered by his dad that Ernie begins to comprehend that there are more important things than making money. The language, tone, and plotting of the novel by Doug Cooney (S&S, 2002) is reminiscent of children's books of the 1950's. The only indication that this is a contemporary story is the mention of Ernie's cell phone. The touching ending occurs too quickly, not allowing listeners time to sufficiently enjoy Ernie's change of heart. In this full cast recording, Doug Cooney narrates. Carmen Viviano-Crafts does an effective job as Swimming Pool, Ryan Sparkes voices an endearing Dusty, and Spencer Murphy as Ernie is appropriately smarmy and brisk. This audiobook will be enjoyed by middle graders looking for humor and unusually snappy dialogue.-B. Allison Gray, South Country Library, Bellport, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Booklist Something kids won't have seen before.
School Library Journal Witty, clever, yet touching...