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13 Little Blue Envelopes

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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.

Self-effacing Ginny, 17, heads off to Europe with a giant purple-and-green backpack and an intriguing itinerary: she must follow the instructions set forth in a series of 13 sealed envelopes provided to her by her recently deceased Aunt Peg, an artist and free spirit. Ginny's journey starts in London, where she falls in with Keith, a scruffy but appealing performer who, as the designated love interest, is destined to pop up throughout the novel. Zig-zagging from Edinburgh to Rome (task: "Ask a Roman boy out for cake") to Paris (find the tiny caf? Peg spent a month decorating and painting) to Amsterdam and beyond, Ginny follows her aunt's footsteps while learning to rely on her own pluck and imagination. Readers will find Ginny an excellent traveling companion: her wry observations reveal a keen eye for the defining details of the backpacking experience. Letter by letter, country by country, Ginny comes into her own as she begins to accept the loss of her beloved mentor. Her realization that she is indeed an adventurer, even without Peg's presence, is the emotional ballast that provides gravity to the novel's delicious fairytale ending. Equal parts poignant, funny and inspiring, this tale is sure to spark wanderlust. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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