Published: Bunty: #2046 (29 March 1997) – #2057 (14 June 1997)
Kelly Warner is staying with her Aunt Sarah while her parents are abroad, and is looking forward to lots of treats and being spoiled rotten at her kind aunt’s. But then cousin Sonia comes to stay too because her mother is ill. Kelly does not want to share Aunt Sarah and her treats with Sonia, so she starts playing dirty tricks to get rid of Sonia while pretending to be friendly.
Both girls are temporary pupils at their new school, and the tricks Kelly pulls on Sonia soon give Sonia a reputation at school. The other girls turn against Sonia as they think she is trouble and even accuse her of faking everything in order to get attention. Sonia is readily upset at all the tricks (a nasty note Kelly plants calling her a wimp is unfortunately not too far wrong) and realises she has an enemy, but has no idea who what with all the girls being strangers and turning against her because of her ‘reputation’. It is an easy matter for Kelly to put the blame for a trick on one girl or other so Sonia accuses the unfortunate girl, which further reinforces her bad reputation. Kelly also takes steps to make Aunt Sarah also think Sonia is trouble, so to cut her off from any help there. But Kelly realises that Sonia’s reputation is beginning to have the girls avoiding her too, and says she has to be loyal to her cousin. Nonetheless, the girls say everything was fine until those two arrived and they aren’t very friendly with Kelly either.
Then someone begins to pull tricks on Kelly, starting with a nasty note in her schoolbag. Kelly wonders if her plan has backfired and one of the girls is playing tricks on her now. Kelly still pulls her own tricks on Sonia, but notices that Sonia is not getting as wound up over them as she was before.
Finally, Kelly ruins the cakes Sonia made in domestic science by putting salt and pepper in them. But then Kelly finds her own cakes have been ruined in the same manner. Sonia then reveals that she had been playing those tricks on Kelly. She had found Kelly out somehow and has been fighting fire with fire!
Sonia then takes her leave; she is free to go home as her mother has recovered. But before Sonia goes, she gives Kelly a warning that has her full of dread. Sonia’s family are moving into the area where Kelly lives soon. So if she ends up at the same school as Kelly….
It has been done a kazillion times in girls’ comics and would continue in girls’ comics – a spiteful girl plots to get rid of a foster sister/cousin because she is jealous or does not want to share. But what is unique is how the story is resolved. This is the only time I have ever seen this type of story end where the victim turns the tables on the troublemaker with her own tricks. Usually, in cases where the victim realises what the troublemaker is up to (which does not always happen because it’s resolved another way), she makes moves to catch the troublemaker out, not give her a taste of her own medicine. But this is precisely what happens here. The twist raises the eyebrows of anyone who is familiar with the “spiteful stepsister/cousin” story, because it is definitely not what usually happens with this type of premise. If there are other “spiteful stepsister/cousin” stories that were resolved in this manner, I sure would like to know about them!
The buildup of the tricks at school is well constructed. Both girls are strangers at the school (another odd step – usually it is just the victim who is the newcomer at school in this type of story), so it is easy for Kelly to make everyone a potential suspect in Sonia’s eyes. It is also easier for Kelly to foist the blame for the tricks on other girls who have been unfriendly one way or other. Kelly even pulls tricks to hit back at them at times when they are unfriendly (such as not inviting Kelly to a party) through Sonia. However, the disadvantage of Kelly being a stranger at the school too is that she does not have existing friends or a solid good reputation to keep her protected from a reputation as the “friend” of the girl who has a reputation as a troublemaker. Kelly has unwittingly cut herself off from making friends at her temporary school, and even after Sonia leaves she will most certainly have a hard time making friends.
Some explanation on how Sonia rumbled Kelly would have been in order. It is, after all, what any reader would love to know. And surely Kelly herself would have been anxious to know it too. But she doesn’t even ask, and the lack of explanation on how Sonia found Kelly out is a bit annoying and feels like something is lacking there in the resolution. The only hint of how it could have happened is Sonia noticing how pale Kelly looks after the girls say they know who is responsible – only for them to say it is Sonia herself. If that was where it happened, it is taking an enormous stretch of perception for Sonia to start suspecting Kelly there. Perhaps there was something else that made Sonia suspicious and Kelly looking pale merely confirmed it.
The warning that Kelly may not have seen the last of Sonia or her revenge also adds to Kelly’s punishment. Even if Sonia does not end up at the same school as Kelly, Kelly is left sweating and beginning to regret what she did because of what may follow because of it. Staying at Aunt Sarah’s won’t be so enjoyable now.