13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes

4.1 685
by Maureen Johnson
     
 

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When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are

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Overview

When Ginny receives thirteen little blue envelopes and instructions to buy a plane ticket to London, she knows something exciting is going to happen. What Ginny doesn't know is that she will have the adventure of her life and it will change her in more ways than one. Life and love are waiting for her across the Atlantic, and the thirteen little blue envelopes are the key to finding them in this funny, romantic, heartbreaking novel.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Following the instructions in 13 sealed envelopes provided by her recently deceased aunt, a 17-year-old sets off for the experience of a lifetime. "Equal parts poignant, funny and inspiring, this tale is sure to spark wanderlust," said PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Ginny begins an incredible summer journey with a package of little blue envelopes from her Aunt Peg. Peg ran away from home at age 17 and traveled to a variety of places where she met artists, studied art, lived above a Chinese restaurant and settled in New York City. Then without warning, she ran away again. But what makes this package of letters significant is that Aunt Peg has died. Yet, Ginny gains parental approval and follows the instructions that Peg has laid out for her. She is to make an odyssey and the first stop is London, where she meets Peg's friend, Richard, who works at Harrod's. She also meets Keith, a college boy who has written and produced a play. Following the instructions in each envelope, Ginny's odyssey takes her to Scotland, to Rome, and Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Greece. In each place, she has a small task to perform—support the arts, visit an art gallery, see the countryside, stay at a particular hostel. With each city, Ginny learns more about herself and about her aunt who had made this same journey before she became ill. She is scrupulous about following her aunt's instructions. Intertwined in her journey are Keith and a romantic relationship. As she comes to the last of the letters, Ginny has grown from the shy teenager she was to one who is more independent, more invested in the life around her. At the end of the journey, she better understands her aunt and her aunt's passion for living even in the face of illness and death. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Harper Collins, 336p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
Children's Literature
Everyone dreams of adventure: traveling the world, doing crazy things, and meeting interesting people. Ginny's adventure starts the day she received the first blue envelope. Shortly after her eccentric aunt, who disappeared over two years ago, suddenly dies, Ginny receives the first letter instructing her to travel to the Chinese restaurant below her aunt's old apartment in New York. There she receives a packet of twelve other letters. These letters send Ginny on a whirlwind tour of her aunt's last few years. Each one contains instructions (get on the night train to Paris or ask an Italian boy to eat cake with you) as well as insight into to why Aunt Peg left. As Ginny faithfully follows the instructions, she slowly comes out of her shell and begins to understand Aunt Peg. This is a fascinating novel. Ginny, although a little too pure and naive for a modern high-school grad, is a likable character and readers will be envious of her trip. The letters are intriguing and propel the reader through the novel; you want to know what she will have to do next. This is a girl's book, though. Boys will find the males in the story a bit silly, but girls will find it delightful. 2005, HarperCollins, Ages 14 to 18.
—Heather Robertson
KLIATT - Janis Flint-Ferguson
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2005: Ginny begins an incredible summer journey with a package of little blue envelopes from her Aunt Peg. Peg ran away from home at age 17 and traveled to a variety of places where she met artists, studied art, lived above a Chinese restaurant and settled in New York City. Then without warning, she ran away again. But what makes this package of letters significant is that Aunt Peg has died. Yet, Ginny gains parental approval and follows the instructions that Peg has laid out for her. She is to make an odyssey and the first stop is London, where she meets Peg's friend, Richard, who works at Harrod's. She also meets Keith, a college boy who has written and produced a play. Following the instructions in each envelope, Ginny's odyssey takes her to Scotland, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Greece. In each place, she has a small task to perform—support the arts, visit an art gallery, see the countryside, stay at a particular hostel. With each city, Ginny learns more about herself and about her aunt who had made this same journey before she became ill. She is scrupulous about following her aunt's instructions. Intertwined in her journey are Keith and a romantic relationship. As she comes to the last of the letters, Ginny has grown from the shy teenager she was to one who is more independent, more invested in the life around her. At the end of the journey, she better understands her aunt and her aunt's passion for living even in the face of illness and death. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-This whirlwind adventure begins as Ginny, 17, reads a letter from her free-spirited, unpredictable Aunt Peg, who has recently passed away. She is given several destinations, four rules, and the instruction to open one envelope upon her arrival at each place. Thus begins a rapid tour of Europe as the teen struggles to accomplish the tasks established by her aunt. The motivation: Ginny wants to understand the woman's wanderlust and, possibly, she just wants a connection to her beloved relative. Throughout her adventures in Rome, Paris, Greece, England, and the Netherlands, the teen collects pieces of Peg's past and learns more about her rapid departure. She also learns much about herself. The reason Ginny is sent to meet certain people is not always clear; sometimes she (and readers) wonder about the point of the exercise. Overall, though, the novel drives home the importance of family, love, and the value of connections that you make with people. It is a quick read that will interest high school girls.-Emily Garrett, Naaman Forest High School, Garland, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Aunt Peg was full of wonder, and 17-year-old Ginny always felt more interesting around her. When Ginny receives a letter from Aunt Peg containing $1,000 and instructions for a mysterious journey, she is propelled into a series of experiences that will change her life. She receives a package containing 13 little blue envelopes, to be opened one at a time and only when she's completed the task in each letter. She goes to London, Scotland, Italy, Rome, Paris and elsewhere, ultimately realizing that she can be interesting by herself; she doesn't have to be with Peg to feel interesting. The envelopes draw Ginny around the world and the reader along with her, the letters providing a nice change of pace to the third-person narrative. Johnson's writing is sophisticated and humorous, her characterizations pitch perfect. Aunt Peg seems as real as Ginny, though we find early on that she has died and exists for Ginny only through her letters and memory. A sure hit with fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Fiction. 12+)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061973802
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Series:
13 Little Blue Envelopes , #1
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
22,668
Lexile:
770L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

13 Little Blue Envelopes


By Maureen Johnson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Maureen Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060541431

Chapter One

A Package Like a Dumpling

As a rule, Ginny Blackstone tried to go unnoticed--something that was more or less impossible with thirty pounds (she'd weighed it) of purple-and-green backpack hanging from her back. She didn't want to think about all the people she'd bumped into while she'd been carrying it. This thing was not made for wearing around New York City. Well, anywhere, really . . . but especially the East Village of New York City on a balmy June afternoon.

And a chunk of her hair was caught under the strap on her right shoulder, so her head was also being pulled down a little. That didn't help.

It had been over two years since Ginny had last been to the 4th Noodle Penthouse. (Or "that place above the grease factory," as Ginny's parents preferred to refer to it. It wasn't entirely unfair. 4th Noodle was pretty greasy. But it was the good kind of greasy, and they had the best dumplings in the world.)

Her mental map had faded a bit in the last two years, but 4th Noodle's name also contained its address. It was on 4th Street and Avenue A. The alphabet avenues were east of the numbers, deeper into the super-trendy East Village--where people smoked and wore latex and never shuffled down the street with bags the size ofmailboxes strapped to their backs.

She could just see it now . . . the unassuming noodle shop next to Pavlova's Tarot (with the humming purple neon sign), just across the street from the pizza place with the giant mural of a rat on the side.

There was a tiny tinkle of a chime and a sharp blast of air-conditioning as Ginny opened the door. Standing behind the counter was a pixie of a woman manning three phones at once. This was Alice, the owner, and Aunt Peg's favorite neighbor. She smiled broadly when she saw Ginny and held up a finger, indicating that she should wait.

"Ginny," Alice said, hanging up two of the phones and setting down the third. "Package. Peg."

She disappeared through a bamboo curtain that covered a door into the back. Alice was Chinese, but she spoke perfect English (Aunt Peg had told her so). But because she always had to get right to the point (4th Noodle did a brisk business), she spoke in halting single words.

Nothing had changed since the last time Ginny had been here. She looked up at the illuminated pictures of Chinese food, the shiny plastic visions of sesame shrimp and chicken and broccoli. They glowed, not quite tantalizingly, more radioactively. The chicken pieces were a little too glossy and orange. The sesame seeds too white and too large. The broccoli was so green it seemed to vibrate. There was the blown-up and framed picture of Rudy Giuliani standing with a glowing Alice, taken when he had shown up one day.

It was the smell, though, that was most familiar. The heavy, fatty smell of sizzling beef and pork and peppers and the sweetish odor of vats of steaming rice. This was the scent that seeped through Aunt Peg's floor and perfumed her.

It rang such a chord in Ginny's memory that she almost swung her head around to see if Aunt Peg was standing there behind her.

But, of course, she couldn't be.

"Here," Alice said, emerging from the beaded curtain with a brown paper package in her hand. "For Ginny."

The package--an overstuffed padded brown envelope--was indeed addressed to her, Virginia Blackstone, care of Alice at 4th Noodle, New York City. It was postmarked from London and had the faintest aura of grease.

"Thanks," Ginny said, accepting the package as gracefully as she could, given that she couldn't lean over without falling face-first onto the counter. "Say hi to Peg for me," Alice said, picking up the phone and launching straight into an order.

"Right . . ." Ginny nodded. "Um, sure."

Once she was out on the street, scanning Avenue A nervously for the cab she was going to have to hail for herself, Ginny wondered if she should have told Alice what had happened. But she was soon distracted by the sheer terror that her task caused her. Cabs were yellow beasts that sped through New York, whisking people who had to be places to the places they had to be and leaving terrified pedestrians scrambling for cover.

No, she thought, raising a timid hand as far as she could as a herd of her prey suddenly appeared. There was no reason to tell Alice what had happened. She barely believed it herself. And besides, she had to go.

Continues...


Excerpted from 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson Copyright © 2006 by Maureen Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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