Married; children: three sons. Education: Trinity College (Deerfield, IL), B.A.
Home—Metro Chicago, IL. Agent—Tracy Grant, Leona Literary Agency, P.O. Box 835, Highland Park, IL 60035.
Voice-over actor and author. Has also worked as a bagpipe player.
Clabbernappers, Starscape (New York, NY), 2005.
Fantasms, Starscape (New York, NY), 2007.
Len Bailey is a professional radio-commercial and voice-over actor as well as the author of the fantasy novels Clabbernappers and Fantasms. Bailey studied journalism in college, earning a scholarship in that field, but did not pursue writing professionally until he began to focus on fiction for younger readers. In addition to writing and acting, he has also worked as a bagpiper, and during college, he was a member of the National Collegiate Athletics Association National Champion soccer team. Although he also enjoys golf, Bailey acknowledged on the Macmillan Web site that "his best ‘wood’ is his pencil."
The idea for Clabbernappers came to Bailey while he was playing a game of chess on his computer. In the story, eleven-year-old Danny Ray, a junior-division rodeo champion, steps through a magical doorway and into a land inhabited by chess pieces. Given the task of rescuing the captured queen of Eliador from across the Checkered Sea, Danny finds himself combating pirates and staving off man-eating ghosts while on the biggest adventure of his life. "Action is paramount in the imaginatively told tale, which is filled with near misses and close calls," wrote Cindy Welch in a Booklist review of Clabbernappers. Jessi Platt, writing for School Library Journal, noted that while Bailey's vocabulary might be too difficult for some readers in the novel's targeted age group, the novel is "interesting and wonderfully written." A Publishers Weekly critic predicted that readers who enjoyed Danny's "plucky cowboy attitude … and over-the-top dialect will find this a fun, fast read."
Part of a planned series, Fantasms chronicles Danny's second adventure in the enchanted land of Eliador. In this sequel to Clabbernappers, Princess Amber has been captured by fantasms, which are powerful, shape-shifting monsters that are poised to take over all of Eliador unless Amber is rescued. The princess herself faces an awful fate if she cannot be freed: her life will be forfeit. Unfortunately, Danny has just suffered a defeat back home in Oklahoma; a disastrous bull ride has robbed him of his confidence, and in order to defeat the fantasms, he must face his own doubts. Some of the characters who helped him in Clabbernappers have also returned, but they, too, have changed, and some are not as trustworthy as they were before. "There's more than enough adventure to capture the imagination of any young YA," wrote Lesley Farmer in Kliatt. While a Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that Fantasms falls short of the standards set by Clabbernappers, the critic added that "Bailey's imagination remains fertile and his language sumptuous."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2005, Cindy Welch, review of Clabbernappers, p. 856.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of Fantasms, p. 119.
Kliatt, March, 2007, Lesley Farmer, review of Fantasms, p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, March 7, 2005, review of Clabbernappers, p. 68.
School Library Journal, June, 2005, Jessi Platt, review of Clabbernappers, p. 147; June, 2007, Walter Minkel, review of Fantasms, p. 138.
Macmillan Web site,http://us.macmillan.com/ (October 6, 2008), "Len Bailey."