The Burying Beetle by Ann Kelley

The Burying Beetle

Written by Ann Kelley

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Shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award 2006.

Twelve year old Gussie tells the story of her life with an engaging freshness and enthusiasm. Recently moved from London to Cornwall, Gussie captures the details of her new life – the ramshackle house on the cliffs, the overflowing stacks of books, the beautiful views, the interesting people and, above all, the wonderful wild life she can see all around her. The specialness of it all and Gussie’s embracing of it is made poignant by the fact the she has a terminal heart condition. Every day and every thing is precious.(11+)


The Burying Beetle by Ann Kelley

Gussie was born with a rare heart disease. To reduce the strain on her health, she and her mother move to the Cornish coast. There, she learns about the Burying Beetle, which buries animals by digging away the earth beneath them. As she searches the countryside for the insect she is forced to confront her mortality.

About the Author

Ann Kelley

Ann Kelley is a photographer and prize-winning poet who once nearly played cricket for Cornwall. She has previously published a collection of poems and photographs, a book of photos of St Ives families and an audio book of cat stories.

She lives with her second husband and several cats on the edge of a cliff in Cornwall where they have survived a flood, a landslip, a lightning strike and the roof blowing off. She runs courses for aspiring poets at her home, writing courses for medics and medical students, and speaks about her poetry therapy work with patients at medical conferences.

From the author: "My son, Nathan died in 1985, aged 24, a week after a heart and lung transplant. He had a rare congenital heart defect – pulmonary atresia – the lack of a pulmonary artery.

"A clever lad, a scientist, he knew he had a short time to live but he lived every day to the full in the only way he could – studying, learning and with humour.
He was a self-taught fish pathologist – an ichthyologist. He actually discovered two cancers in fish when he was 16; they are registered in his name in the Smithsonian Institute and he studied Pathobiology at Reading University and then Space Science at UCL, before he became too ill to continue.

"Gussie isn’t my son. She is an amalgamation of several people – my daughter, my grand-daughter, my son and me – and she is mostly herself, an odd, funny bookish child, eccentric and thoughtful – a one off, as Nathan was.

"But she is also the embodiment of many children who bravely find a way to live through health and emotional problems.

"My son knew that even with a successful transplant, in those days he would only have had a few more years. But he was so happy to have been given that chance.

"I think that is why I write about Gussie – to make people see the importance of being an organ donor."

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Luath Press Ltd

Publication date

19th May 2006




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