Celia's highly acclaimed novels for older children and teenagers include THE WISH HOUSE, WITCH CHILD, PIRATES and TRUTH OR DARE. She lives in Leamington Spa, and divides her time between writing, talking to readers in schools and libraries, and teaching creative writing on the University of Warwick's Open Studies Programme.
Gr 6-9-Celia Rees' novel (1994) preceded the wave of young adult fiction thematizing bullies, a literary outgrowth of our recent cultural experiences with young teens striking back violently after suffering through middle school ostracism and goading. As read by Kim Hicks, The Bailey Game provides all the feelings of present dread, self-loathing about the past, anxiety about new friendship, and determination to do the right thing that Rees inculcated in her main character, 7th year student Alexandra Lewis. With the memory fresh in her conscience of how former classmate Michael Bailey was singled out for psychological torture, Alex notices that the new girl, Lauren, has been targeted. Lauren, however, has a lot of attitude of her own, sometimes too much to allow Alex to enter her independent circle as a potential friend. The cruelties visited upon these middle grade teens by their classmates are both dreadful and realistic, and range from verbal taunts to physical threats and blows. Hicks keeps the pace lively, with just enough voicing to give body to the various characters, who include Lauren's oddly confident younger sister, Alex's irritating older one, their mothers, and the nasty (and nice) cast of classmates. The light British accent suits the setting and doesn't impede American comprehension of either details or moods. That the situation is perhaps universal is distressing, but this book brings home the fact that the United States is not the only place where the schoolyard can be out of control.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
'A very exciting and disturbing tale which will hold the reader's interest right to the end. I highly recommend The Bailey Game.' Michele Elliot, KIDSCAPE