The Dare Game
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|2 March 2000|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Story of Tracy Beaker|
|Followed by||Starring Tracy Beaker|
After the events of The Story of Tracy Beaker, Tracy is living with her foster mother Cam. Their relationship is tense; Tracy has grown to resent Cam for imposing what she sees as an excessively restrictive lifestyle. Tracy also has troubles at school, where she does not get along with her teacher or classmates. After discovering an abandoned house, Tracy begins skipping school to spend time in the house on her own. After a few days, she discovers that the house is frequented by two schoolboys as well. One of the boys, Alexander, goes to the house to get out of playing sports at school and avoid his domineering father. The other boy, Football, has little interest in academics and prefers to spend time at the abandoned house than with his family. The three children pass the time at the house by playing “the Dare Game,” which requires them to dare each other to carry out increasingly difficult challenges and stunts.
After living with Cam for some time, Tracy is surprised by the sudden appearance of her biological mother, Carly, who claims that she wants Tracy to come back home with her. Tracy is allowed to stay with her for a weekend, during which her mother showers her with gifts. Though Cam is upset at the prospect of Tracy leaving her, Tracy grows increasingly certain that she wants to move in with her mother long-term. However, during her second visit to her mother’s apartment, Tracy is left at home alone for the night while her mother goes to the pub, a situation she finds frightening and anxiety-inducing. When Carly eventually comes home with a man, Tracy realizes that her mother has no plans to prioritize her in her life and runs away. Rather than return to Cam, she goes to the abandoned house, where she has an argument with Football about her mother. Alexander gets caught in the middle of their fight and ends up with a broken leg.
Football and Tracy are both shaken by Alexander’s injury. At the hospital, they affirm their friendship with each other and Alexander. Spending time with her friends and Alexander’s family makes Tracy reconsider her relationship with Cam. After recognizing how much Cam cares for her, Tracy decides to continue living with her and begins attending school regularly, though she also continues seeing Football and Alexander.
Tracy Beaker: The story's main protagonist and narrator; Tracy is daring, bold and reckless. Her previous home was in a child-care house, which was nicknamed "The Dumping Ground" She's currently under the foster care of author Cam Lawson and aspires to be a writer too. She dislikes her school and living under Cam's simple, practical lifestyle and wishes she could wear designer clothes and own expensive gear to be popular. She later moves in with Cam permanently after realising that her mother left her alone in her flat for hours while she picked boozing and often violent boyfriends over her.
Cam Lawson: Tracy's foster mother. She fell in love with Tracy's histrionic personality but Tracy does prove very difficult for her to handle, and the pair often end up quarrelling. Cam leads a casual lifestyle, with plain clothing and a short haircut, and Tracy wishes for her to be more glamorous like her mother. She's also a struggling writer. She is proven in the end to care and love Tracy much more than she appeared to. She calls Tracy's room the "Bat Cave" because it is black and has bats in it, and also due to the fact that she suspects that Tracy may be a costumed crime fighter.
Alexander: A boy whom Tracy befriends at the secret house in which she plays truant. Although Alexander is intelligent, he plays truant because he is teased by the other boys at his school for being hopeless at games. He is terrified of his father, who he believes hates him.
Football: Another boy who Tracy befriends, Football is the very opposite of Alexander: big, burly, strong and (as his name suggests) mad about football. He and Tracy become friends when she tells him of what it's like to be in care. Football is excluded from school and hates his uncouth mother. He initially speaks very highly of his Dad, despite the fact that he never fulfils his promise to take him to a football match. Eventually, when he sees for himself that his Dad prefers to spend time with his promiscuous new girlfriend, he turns against him.
Carly Beaker: Tracy's real mother, who turns up unexpectedly after years of leaving her daughter in care. She is blonde, attractive and glamorous, and treats Tracy to a lot of expensive presents during their first weekend together. However, she has very little maternal feelings for her daughter and tends to choose men and boozing over Tracy. When Tracy realises this, she leaves her mother for good.
Mrs. Vomit Bagley: Tracy's middle-aged teacher. She is described as having minty breath and an awful "instant-powder, talcum" smell.
Roxanne: A poisnous girl in Tracy's class at school. Roxanne is constantly making fun of Tracy (especially because of her clothes). She is described as "playing Little Miss Innocent" in front of teachers but can be as daring as the protagonist.
Mr. Hatherway: The reception class teacher at Tracy's school. He is the opposite of Mrs. Bagley, and Tracy seems to like him, and regrets that he'll never be her teacher.
Trevor: A young child whom Tracy meets when Mr. Hatherway has to bring him out of class due to a nosebleed. They become friends at the end of the book.