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13 Little Blue Envelopes Paperback – September 26, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-11. Seventeen-year-old Ginny had always admired her aunt Peg, a free-spirited artist who often disappeared for months, most recently to Europe. Now Aunt Peg has died of brain cancer, and in a characteristically cryptic gesture made before her death, she arranged for her niece to receive a plane ticket to London, where Ginny will begin a series of adventures. Guided by Peg's friends and the instructions in each of 13 letters her aunt wrote, Ginny sets off across Europe. Staying with Peg's contacts or in hostels, Ginny begins to peel away some of the mythic layers surrounding her aunt, even as she falls into thrilling escapades and a blossoming romance. Johnson's plot stretches plausibility. Would Ginny's practical mother really have agreed to such a solo, undefined journey? But readers will probably overlook any improbabilities and willingly accompany Ginny through her sensitive, authentically portrayed experiences--uncomfortable, lonely, giddy, and life changing--as she pieces together family mysteries and discovers herself. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: 13 Little Blue Envelopes (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; Reissue edition (December 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060541431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060541439
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Seventeen-year-old Ginny was always in awe of her Aunt Peg, a free-spirited woman who loved the arts and would often disappear for months on end, only to show-up once again with tales of a fabulous adventure she had taken part in. Aunt Peg's most recent adventures took place throughout Europe. That is, before she died of a brain tumor. However, before her death, Aunt Peg made arrangements for Ginny to explore Europe the same way she did - with no plans at all whatsoever. Ginny receives a package from her deceased Aunt...one that includes a plane ticket to London, a list of rules, and thirteen little blue envelopes that she must open one at a time, in order to truly experience the whole "backpacking adventure."

There was something about Maureen Johnson's 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES that appealed to me from the moment I saw the cover, and read the synopsis about the story. An air of mystery and adventure that drew me in from page one. Ginny is an intriguing character, who can seem aloof, or shy at times, but is really fun once you truly delve into the story, and see what she's about. The adventures that she takes part in - and allows the reader to accompany her on - are exciting, and leave the reader ready to truly explore Europe on a backpacking trip of his/her own. Johnson has done a marvelous job of accurately conveying the mixed feelings of a teenager on her own, and the butterflies of first love, and has wrapped them all together in this nice little package. A first-class novel that will be cherished for generations.

Erika Sorocco

Book Review Columnist for The Community Bugle Newspaper
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Format: Hardcover
The fact that Ginny has received a package of thirteen blue envelopes from her eccentric but favorite aunt telling her to travel around the world is not particularly shocking. Being instructed to open each envelope in order isn't so strange either. What makes it a surprise is the fact that Ginny's aunt Peg has been dead for months. She was young and full of life, and her death was a shock.

Now, though, she is sending Ginny on a journey. It starts in London and will end up...who knows where? On the way, she'll meet interesting people, see exotic places, and, most of all, get to better know the aunt she lost.

The idea behind the story is original and interesting, sure to be appreciated by readers for the fact that it is both fun and meaningful. The characters are all interesting, unique, and believable. Readers will come to know Peg, who has been dead for three months at the start of the novel, through her letters and the journey she took through Europe that Ginny is retracing. Among the interesting people met by Ginny on her travels are Keith, a performance artist who was a bit of a delinquent in the past, and Richard, a friend of her aunt's who once sold underpants to the Queen of England, and various other colorful characters.

For some reason, it took me awhile to get into this story, but once I did, I was hooked. The ending was a little more open than I would have liked, but this is a good book that teens are sure to enjoy. Fans of Maureen Johnson's other books are sure to like 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES. Having read two of her other novels (DEVLILISH and THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE ), I was slightly disappointed with this one; it didn't grab my attention quite as quickly or keep my mind quite as occupied as those other two books, but it was still enjoyable, thought-provoking, and certainly worth reading.

Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce

Posted 12/20/2006

4.5-BOOKS on WUAT = 5-STARS on Amazon
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Format: Paperback
My friend did a book project on this and the idea of the story fascinated me. Overall it was a good not great book. It was wordy in all the wrong places and any problem Ginny faced didnt seem real or likely. The author had a tendency to gloss over the details.Sometimes the entire thing seemed unrealistic. So many things could have gone wrong with an unsupervised minor trekking acorss Europe but none of those issues were addressed. At the end of the book I felt muddled and tired just like Ginny. Considering the kinds of book I have read in this genre it was an excellent book and i recomend it but I think there are better, more detailed books out there.
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Format: Paperback
I've been a reader of Maureen Johnson's blog for awhile now, but hadn't gotten to any of her books yet. On the insistence of others, I broke down and ordered 13 Little Blue Envelopes - Wow! I wish I'd picked this up sooner!

The plot itself is interesting, with the added bonus of being much different from most of the YA books on the shelves right now. Throughout the book, Johnson throws surprises and great chances for character development at the protagonist, Ginny, who shows fabulous arc through the book. Not only does she have travel opportunities that will leave readers wanting to hop on the next Trans-Atlantic, but her writing is fresh enough to keep the pages flying by as well.

Johnson is well known for being one of the most accessible, entertaining YA writers in the field right now. She definitely doesn't disappoint with Little Blue Envelopes - her concise, realistic prose and eye for charming, absurd details makes this a definite keeper. If you're looking for a fun, surprisingly moving book...this is the one for you!
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