Excerpt from 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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13 Little Blue Envelopes

by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 317 pages
    Oct 2006, 318 pages

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So Aunt Peg was exactly the kind of person who would send her to England alone, with a package from a Chinese restaurant. That wasn't so odd.

The odd part was that Aunt Peg had been dead for three months.

That last fact was a little hard to swallow. Aunt Peg was the most lively person Ginny had ever known. She was also only thirty-five years old. That number was stuck in Ginny's head because her mother kept repeating it over and over. Only thirty-five. Lively thirty-five-year-olds weren't supposed to die. But Aunt Peg had. The phone call had come from a doctor in England explaining that Aunt Peg had developed cancer—that it had come quickly, that everything had been tried but nothing could be done.

The news . . . the illness . . . it was all very distant to Ginny. Somehow, she'd never really believed it. Aunt Peg was still out there somewhere in her mind. And Ginny was somehow speeding toward her in this plane. Only Aunt Peg could make something like this happen. Not that Ginny hadn't had to do her part. First, she'd had to convince herself that she could follow what seemed like an obvious flight of insanity from an aunt who wasn't known for her reliability. Once she'd done that, she had to convince her parents of the same thing. Major international treaties had been negotiated in less time.

But now she was here. No going back now.

The plane was cold. Very cold. The lights were down, and it was completely black outside the small windows. Everyone but Ginny seemed to be asleep, including the people to either side of her. She couldn't move without waking them up. Ginny wrapped herself in the tiny and ineffectual airline blanket and clutched the package to her chest. She hadn't been able to bring herself to open it yet. Instead, she'd spent most of the night looking out of her darkened airplane window at a long shadow and several blinking lights, at first thinking she was looking at the coast of New Jersey and then maybe Iceland or Ireland. It wasn't until the dawn, when they were just about to land, that she saw that the whole time she'd been looking at the wing.

Below them, through a cottony veil of clouds, was a patchwork of green squares. Land. This plane was actually going to land, and they were going to make her get out. In a foreign country. Ginny had never been anywhere more exotic than Florida, and nowhere by herself.

She pried the package from her own grip and set it on her lap. The time had clearly come to open it. Time to find out what Aunt Peg had planned for her.

She pulled open the seal and reached inside.

The package contained a collection of envelopes much like the first. They were all blue. They were made of heavy paper. Good quality. The kind from one of those boutique paper stores. The front of each envelope was either illustrated in pen and ink or watercolor, and they were bundled together with an overstretched rubber band that had been doubled around them.

More importantly, they were each marked with a number, starting with two and running to thirteen. Envelope #2 had an illustration of a bottle, with a label that read open me on the plane.

So she did.

The foregoing is excerpted from 13 Little Bue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022. All Rights Reserved.

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