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The Burying Beetle [Paperback]

Ann Kelley
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 6.99
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Book Description

7 July 2005 Gussie
It was after I ate King that everything started to go wrong in our entire family, as if someone had put an evil spell onto us, a hex - like a bad fairy godmother had said at my birth, when you are eleven you are going to be struck by a sorrow so big it will be like a lightning bolt. There will be grief like a sharp rock in your throat. Twelve-year-old Gussie was born with a rare, life-threatening heart disease, but it hasn't hampered her curiosity. When she reads about the Burying Beetle, which has the unusual habit of burying dead birds, mice, and other small animals by digging away the earth beneath them, it becomes her mission to find one. As she searches the Cornish coast for the elusive insect, Gussie learns to be like the Burying Beetle, to bury things past and to live.

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The Burying Beetle + Inchworm (Gussie) + The Bower Bird
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press Ltd; 2Rev Ed edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905222084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905222087
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 864,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ann Kelley left her convent high school at 17, married at 18 and had two children. She is now a novelist, poet and photographer and lives on the edge of a cliff in Cornwall with her second husband and two cats. After surviving several winter disasters including being struck by lightning they now move to the town during the worst of the weather, to live next door to her daughter and grandchildren. Ann has had several books published including two poetry collections, two books of photographs, and an audio book of cat stories and the novels The Burying Beetle, Bower Bird, and Inchworm. She has won several awards including the Costa Children's Book of the Year for Bower Bird. Her books Koh Tabu and Dark Eden are published by Oxford University Press.

Product Description


I am going to get this book no matter what. I will have this book - Stephen Perkin, aged 13 One of those rare books that delves into the unfathomable depths of your mind and makes you think. The sophisticated character of Gussie will enchant you and awe you with her wisdom. SARAH JACKSON, AGE 14 Acutely observed, tender, funny and very moving. MICHAEL FOREMAN Gussie fairly fizzles with vitality, radiating fun and enjoyment into everything that comes her way. Her life may be predestined to be short but not short on wonder, glee, the love of things as they really are... I hope Gussie's story sells a trillion, zillion copies. It deserves to. MICHAEL BAYLEY

From the Inside Flap

Meet Gussie. Twelve years old and settling into her new ramshackle home
on a cliff top above St Ives, she has an irrepressible zest for life. She also has a life-threatening heart condition. But it's not in her nature to give up. Perhaps because she knows her time might be short, she values every passing moment, experiencing each day with humour and extraordinary courage.

Spirited and imaginative, Gussie has a passionate interest in everything around her and her vivid stream of thoughts and observations will draw you into a renewed sense of wonder.

Gussie's story of inspiration and hope is both heartwarming and heartrending. Once you've met her, you'll not forget her. And you'll never take life for granted again.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is the story of a 12 year old girl with a congenital heart defect which could quite possibly kill her very soon. To ease the strain on her heart, her mother moves the two of them to a remote cottage on the Cornish coast. As plot goes not much happens in this book - it is essentially a perfect creation of a richly complex individual, and a study of life, death, loneliness and hope. As the story is primarily centred round a single character's day-to-day existence, it incorporates a captivating, extremely personal inner monologue, drawing readers into her interest in the natural world and keen observation of unusual language.
In tone and style this is something of a cross between The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Nighttime, and The Lovely Bones, but claims its own stake as a gorgeous, luxuriant work of fiction; and once you are finished you will want to read it right over again.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The burying beetle 24 Feb 2014
By jackie
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
not a book you would want to read if you are feeling depressed but an insight to having a heart. deazis
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively simple, but full of meaning 23 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ostensibly, this is just a collection of the narrator's reflections, memories, everyday activities and observations of nature, with the odd actual incident thrown in. It wanders and jumps from one topic to another in a pretty realistic manner. What makes it special is that this narrator is a 12-year-old girl with a serious heart condition, her only hope a heart and lung transplant. So all those jumbled thoughts and momentary observations take on tremendous meaning. In fact this book is an affirmation of the meaning and value of life, showing that in the end it is the little things that matter.
Thoroughly recommended, especially for those feeling a little despondent or sorry for thelselves - it puts our everyday irritations and worries in perspective. A simple, easy read, yet one which is profoundly touching and meaningful.

In fact I read this after reading the award-winning second book in the series, but this did not detract from my enjoyment. Still two more books to enjoy! And I would be happy to read these first two again.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Wrong narrative voice 4 Mar 2009
This would have been more successful if it had some sort of plot. That would have been a distraction from the meandering narrative of, not an eleven / twelve year old girl, but that of a (however old the author is) adult woman pretending to be a young girl. The author's also a poet, and there is some strong imagery in here which is clearly informed by that. One swallow, though, does not make a summer. I was not convinced by some of the dialogue, and the Mum was a clichéd, embittered proto-divorcée which has been done to death in far too many other books. I'm not usually one to baulk at bad language, but there was no place for it here.
A good book should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This was the middle.
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