Review: Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery by Cynthia Yuan Cheng and Ann M Martin (BSC Graphix 13)
Mary Anne has grown up a lot since the series began. Readers have seen her stand up to a strict parent, make new friends and overcome crippling shyness. In fact, as the book opens the reader sees her stand up to a pair of bullies in the school cafeteria. But now, it seems another challenge awaits. First a chain letter arrives in the mail warning her of bad luck if she does not continue the chain. And then she receives a series of anonymous notes in her mailbox, warning her of consequences if she does not follow the note's instructions--such as wearing a bad luck charm. Meanwhile, everyone in the club seems to be suffering from a run of bad luck. Can they reverse their bad luck before it is too late? And who is sending the notes?
Overall this was a well told story, which demonstrates the young characters actively trying to find solutions to their problems with minimal adult intervention. There is also an interesting commentary on bullying--Cokie and the mean girls feel justified in what they do, due mainly to a misunderstanding, while it is us to Mary Anne and the members of the BSC to show them that there is a better way.
Book 13 is author/illustrator Cynthia Yuan Cheng's first in the series and her illustrations, while having their own unique spin on the characters fit in perfectly with the work of the current and previous artists that have worked on the series. I did, however, spot a couple of continuity errors that are worth mentioning. I'm not sure if this is true of the series as a whole or just this book, but Mallory and Jessi are said to be in seventh grade, while in the original series they were in sixth grade, hence why they were junior members of the club. Second, I notice that the address on Mary Anne's chain letter was 177 Burnt Hill Road. In the original series, Mary Anne lived in Bradford Court until the beginning of Book 31, when she moves to the house on Burnt Hill Road. Still, these are very small things that can be easily overlooked. Overall the illustrations and storytelling is great, keeping the heart of the story whilst giving it a contemporary spin.
PS The fourteenth BSC Graphix novel is due to be published in October 2023, and will be an adaption of Stacey's Mistake. The author/illustrator is Ellen T Crenshaw.