13 Little Blue Envelopes

13 Little Blue Envelopes

4.2 679
by Maureen Johnson
     
 

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New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s funny, heartbreaking, and utterly romantic tale gets a great new cover!

Ginny Blackstone never thought she’d spend her summer vacation backpacking across Europe. But that was before she received the first little blue envelope from Aunt Peg.

This letter was different from

Overview

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s funny, heartbreaking, and utterly romantic tale gets a great new cover!

Ginny Blackstone never thought she’d spend her summer vacation backpacking across Europe. But that was before she received the first little blue envelope from Aunt Peg.

This letter was different from Peg’s usual letters for two reasons:

1. Peg had been dead for three months.

2. The letter included $1000 cash for a passport and a plane ticket.

Armed with instructions for how to retrieve twelve other letters Peg wrote—twelve letters that tell Ginny where she needs to go and what she needs to do when she gets there—Ginny quickly finds herself swept away in her first real adventure. Traveling from London to Edinburgh to Amsterdam and beyond, Ginny begins to uncover stories from her aunt’s past and discover who Peg really was. But the most surprising thing Ginny learns isn’t about Peg . . . it’s about herself.

Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.

Look for the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope!

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+)

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:
352
Sales rank:
9,376
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.

Meet the Author

Maureen Johnson is a New York Times bestselling author whose novels include The Name of the Star, Suite Scarlett, Scarlett Fever, Girl At Sea, The Key To The Golden Firebird, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes. She lives in New York City, but travels to the UK regularly to soak up the drizzle and watch English TV.

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13 Little Blue Envelopes 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 678 reviews.
Shellyy More than 1 year ago
13 Little Blue Envelopes, written by Maureen Johnson, is a well-written story all about a girl who learns how to handle things on her own. It will encourage young minds all over the world to find their inner-beauty and encourage them to try things they never tried before. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a funny and great adventure story that I think all teens will enjoy. I could not put it down; I read in the matter of a few days. The story line instantly pulled me in with a little bit of romance and Ginny¿s adventurous side. I felt like I was living through every experience Ginny went through.
Johnson makes her characters come alive and she portrays them as regular people. She made Ginny a regular teenager who has trouble speaking out. I could relate to this 100 percent. Her writing makes you never want to stop reading and the ending was a delicious cherry on top of an ice cream cone. It was the perfect story with the perfect ending.
I would definitely recommend this to a friend. This is a perfect pick-me-up when you have not read a good book in a while. If you like romance, adventure, and a tad bit of mystery, this is the book to read. You get to discover what it is like to travel through a country alone. You learn all new things about Europe and what life is like on the other side of the world. And surprisingly; it is much the same!
The reason I started reading this book in the first place was because it had been a while since I had read a truly amazing story that I had thoroughly enjoyed. I was tired of the stories that had no interesting conflict and always ended how I expected. I thought that 13 Little Blue Envelopes would stop my bad streak. I read the first chapter and it felt like I was living in Europe. This book is a great book to pick when you need something to pull you away from the world and the people around you. You become Ginny and open each of the envelopes with her.
This book is an overall great read for teenage girls. Most of the time it is interesting and I promise: you will not be able to put this book down! I know I look forward to reading more books by Maureen Johnson after I have read this, and I am sure you will too. I recommend this book to everyone who needs a book to read. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is the way to go!
GirlwiththeBraids More than 1 year ago
Ginny is convinced that the only thing that makes her interesting is her aunt, a starving artist and constant traveler. When her aunt dies of brain cancer, Ginny can't understand what's ahead of her. Days filled with boring scenes and an unoriginal life? Then she receives a letter . from her aunt. She discovers that her aunt wrote 13 letters before she died, all addressed to Ginny. She sends Ginny off on a journey, to different countries to complete different tasks. Who said Ginny couldn't be interesting and exciting? But it's still her aunt that is making her that way and it's all a game. It finally hits Ginny: her aunt is dead. Now, she has to be her own person. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is One-in-a-Million. It was completely creative and unusual! The author flowed with a new, fresh idea and it turned out great. I would have liked to read more about Ginny's mom and her home in New Jersey but it seemed that Ginny was caught in the moment and it rarely came across her mind. As the story developed, so did the characters and the descriptions of the settings blew me away! The writing is great and I look forward to reading more by this author in the near future. I could never imagine the countries that were spoken of but now I can with the help of this book. The reasons I rated this book a 4 are specified below. Contains: *brief nudity *homosexuality of a minor character involved in two chapters *sensuality *sexual references
NCIS_gal19 More than 1 year ago
13 Little Blue Envelopes is an exciting story about a girl named Ginny who receives a mysterious package from her Aunt Peg who has recently passed away. Inside the package there are 13 little blue envelopes and inside each envelope there are directions that will take Ginny all over the world if she chooses to follow them. However, if she does choose to follow them, there's a catch. The next envelope cannot be opened until she has finished the current envelope's directions. Ginny's journey includes her meeting some interesting people and situations. I think 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a great book and I would recommend it mostly to teenage girls because I think they can relate to Ginny a lot. I would give this book a 5 star rating.
Britt_F828 More than 1 year ago
Ginny, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, receives a letter from her deceased aunt. She follows the instructions in the letter and sets off to begin her journey that her aunt has given her. She may only take things that will fit in her backpack, but she is not aloud taking any electronics with her. This journey will make her understand things in her life more and help her understand her aunt's previous life. At each letter Ginny has to read it and follow the instructions. She is not aloud to look ahead at any of the letters. In each letter she has to complete all the instructions in each letter. Each letter takes her to a different places. Ginny gets stuck in some situations and has no clue what to do. But eventually finds her way through each situation. She learns a lot of things during this trip, things that she wouldn't even guess that would be true. End the end she lives to learn with the new things she has discovered, and now knows that there was a reason to that trip. This book is possibly the best book that I have read in years. I have read it more than twice because I like it so much! I give it five stars. I highly recommend reading this book. You will want to read this book a second time once you have read it a first time. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book 13 Little Blue Envelopes is a great book. It will take your mind on a wonderful journey. I love how the author makes you feel like you are their experiencing the hole thing. Maureen Johnson sure knows how to get your attention. Ginny is one of the bet characters in the book. Her estranged aunt gives her 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Thats were they get the title. Ginny has to follow all the advice and jobs that her aunt gave her in the letters. She gets to go on many trips through Europe. She got to go to England, France, Italy, and Greece that is just a few of the countries that she went to. You should really give this book a chance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book made me want to read more of it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Didn't put it down until i finished!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is REALLY fun!! Don't listen to the other ppl who say it's boring!! They're just saying that cause probably they don't want other ppl 2 read it cause it their things and/or cause their weirdos!! THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ!! I CAN'T WAIT TO READ THE SEQUEL, THE LAST LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPE!!!!!!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They should really make this book into a movie, it's that good. I read it and loved it, especially 'The Last Little Blue Envenlope'. Wish something like this would happen to me, wjere I get to go on an adventure!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book anf all the places Ginny goes.its like being there with her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am extremely picky about the books i read but this one was PERFECT! it was funny and engageing and so amazing words csnt do it justice. I liked how Ginny always found a way and solved her problems unlike some of the more helpless girls in some books i have read. Anyway read this book READ IT you wont regret it. P.S i would give it a MILLOIN stars if i could but a cant so it gets 5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fast, fun, flirty, rollercoaster that will take you soaring and clanking up one mountian and swooping down the other.
SpartanReading More than 1 year ago
I give “13 Little Blue Envelopes” by Maureen Johnson 5 out of 5 envelopes because it was a very interesting book with lots of adventure. It had lots of components to it such as mystery, adventure, romance, and many plot twists. The story was about a 17 year old girl named Ginny who had a very crazy aunt. Her aunt had miraculously disappeared one day leaving Ginny only a package filled with 13 little blue envelopes. These envelopes sent her to all different places and had many varying tasks. During one of the quests she meets a boy who she falls in love with. He is sometimes a jerk though, causing them to fight a lot. I would recommend this book to mostly teen and pre-teen girls. This is because this book is from the point of view of a girl and it has some girly concepts. This book has a lot of romance in it that many girls can connect to. For example, since she is so clumsy around boys she starts acting oddly so he starts to dislike her and she is trying to get him back. Also, this book describes the beauty of all the cities she went to and most boys aren’t interested in that stuff. This is a descriptions of the city were a big part of the book so many boys might think it is boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I guess when its summer in long island which is boring and plain you need some adventures and this book right was my adventure it took me to london paris greece rome denmark and it showed young love and i met my crazy runaway aunt peg and my reliable steady uncle richard. I didnt know where i was going but i loved it anyways thank maureen
Anonymous 9 months ago
I liked the plot of this book but the main character got on my nerves a bit until the end. It also was super jumpy which sometimes helped the plot move but other times you were left wanting to know more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fantastic, awesome story and I can not wait to read the sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an awsome book keeps the reader turning the pages
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book soo much!!!, but I also thought it dragged a little bit to much...... its like GET TO THE POINT ALREADY!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was a ecsalent book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the first time i saw and read the first sentence I LOVED IT !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fun read for a young adult - perhaps more suited to girls than boys. The story follows the adventures of a young adult girl as she journies around Europe. There are a few plot points you need to get over (i.e. that her sensible mother lets the girl take off on this trip and that the girl is either unrealistically clueless or rude in her various dealings with the people she meets). But if you can get over that it is a fun page turner. If you have travelled through Europe then it is a nice story to reminesce over.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think it was amazing. Worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book it sends you on a trip and its a page turner you cant get enough!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book taught me about the ups and downs of traveling. What i should do and what you should never do. I think ever girl that loves adventures should read this.