Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson


Click on the image to open the book's Goodreads page

Click on the image to open the book’s Goodreads page

favoriteTitle: 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication Date: August 23, 2005
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: Little Blue Envelope #1
Format: Paperback
Acquisition: Bought

Purchase at: Amazon

Would you follow the directions?
Would you travel around the world?
Would you open the envelopes one by one?

Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.
In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–-though utterly romantic–-results.
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.


I have re-read the series a couple of times already so my review might be a little inclined to talk about what I already knew or feel about the whole thing, but I will try not to let that affect this that much cause there’s a definite shift between the two books. But let me just start out that I really love the series.


This is one of the best adventure books I have ever read. It certainly sparked my deep desire to travel across Europe to see all the wonderful sights when I read more than a year ago. And I’m totally envious of Ginny. I’m sure it’s not easy to trust a bunch of letters to guide you through a journey. And I’m sure it’s not easy doing it alone and not knowing what lies ahead. But I feel like it’s still something I would definitely want to do, even though I know it’s not foolproof.

Ginny received a letter from her aunt who passed away just a few months ago. In the letter, she was given very specific instructions to go to Europe. She’s only allowed to bring one backpack with only the barest of necessities – no guidebooks, no maps, no language aids, no cellphones, no laptops, no cameras, no music players, no money, no credit/debit cards. It’s probably hard to imagine how one would survive without any of those, but somehow Ginny did it. Of course her aunt had the money thing all worked out so that made things easier. I’m not going to expound more about her trip because I don’t want to spoil it. I will just say that I truly love the whole thing – good and bad. Most of all, I like how Ginny braved her way through the letters, different countries, and various tasks. And she didn’t cheat, for the most part anyway. She experienced things she never thought she would, and that to me, is inspiring.

Along the way, she meets a lot of interesting people. One of them is Richard, her aunt’s friend, who took her in while she was in England. I personally really love Richard. He didn’t know what to do with a teenager, but he did his best to make Ginny feel welcome in his home, workplace, and country. Another recurring side character that I loved was Keith. He was at the receiving end of one of Ginny’s tasks, and he kept on showing up a couple of times. He’s British (yes, it’s important to note that, even though most of the people there are British), charming, a little quirky, talented, and funny. I thought I couldn’t get enough of him. I was personally glad to know this book had a sequel, but I’ll talk more about that on my review of that sequel.

I feel like Aunt Peg is a lot like Maureen Johnson (based on her MJ’s twitter account that is). I think there’s just something about her voice and how she talks or converses with people. I could easily imagine Maureen Johnson sending someone a bunch of letters to do all kinds of tasks. Or is that just me?


OVERALL, 13 Little Blue Envelopes is something I would personally want to live in real life. I would love to receive envelopes (and of course money) telling me to go travel across Europe. I loved this book from beginning to end. It showed me wondrous things in Europe, and not so wondrous things. But it definitely left me wanting to go there. It was unique, funny, and entertaining. It was also inspiring, profound, and touching (especially the ending). This is definitely my favorite travel book, and I definitely recommend it.




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  • This is all based on personal opinion, and as much as I’m open to other people’s opinions, I hope you understand that this is based on what I feel. I avoid giving out spoilers as much as possible, too.
  • I do not own most of the images I use, and some may be subject to editing.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

  1. I have seen this book a couple of times already when I check the profiles of the book sellers on Facebook or Instagram and after reading your review, I think I want to read this series already. Being a graduate of BS Tourism, I really want to travel around and if given a chance to travel around Europe, I would definitely make the most from it. Will be adding this to my to read list. Yay! 🙂

  2. Aahh this booooook! I loved this book, I have the Dutch version of this book and I adored it so much! I’m glad you like it as much as I do!

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