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13 Little Blue Envelopes

By: Maureen Johnson

Ginny receives a package from her Aunt Peg that contains 13 little blue envelopes, some money and the instruction to buy a plane ticket to London. Ginny knows if she does this something strange and exciting will happen, it just has to because Peg was fun and quirky and prone to odd things like running away across the world. The problem is that Peg is dead and can’t explain why she ran away. So Ginny, following her Aunt’s instructions sets of for London.

Once there she can open the next envelope and follow those instructions. This is how Ginny sets out on an unexpected journey in the footsteps of her aunt. Along the way she meets people who knew Peg, and is challenged to do things outside her comfort zone. In the process of trying to do as her aunt asked she meets an artistic Londoner, an Italian boy with less than pure intentions, a regimented tourist family and some laid back Aussie backpackers, and she gets to see some of the most amazing parts of the world. The real treasure though is discovering her aunt in a whole new way.

This story is a wonderful adventure of discovery, not only of Peg but also self-discovery for Ginny. Throughout the course of this journey Ginny comes out of her shell and really starts to grow as a person. The trip her aunt sends her on is a fascinating one that takes her off the beaten track at times. Ginny herself pulls you into the story as you care more about her journey that the aunt’s, not just the physical trip but also the emotional one.

Johnson takes the reader to some fantastic places around the world and imbues each place with a vitality of its own. The supporting cast are fascinating and each bring a little something special to the story. 13 Little Blue Envelopes is an enjoyable read, though at times I did wonder about an aunt that would throw someone so inexperienced into some of those situations but then that is why this is fiction not reality. A pleasant way to escape for a while.

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

Published: 15 September 2006

Format: Paperback 352 pages

Categories: Adventure, Family, Discovery

ISBN 13: 9780060541439

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page

The Name of the Star – Book Trailer

In case you were wondering what that grey book with the guy on with the top hat on the front cover was all about.

The Name of the Star

By: Maureen Johnson

A Shades of London Novel

Aurora ‘Rory’ Deveaux has chosen to spend a year at Wexford Boarding School in London, when her parents are working in Bristol. her arrival coincides with the beginning of a series of brutal murders. Crimes that appear to have left no witnesses, not even the extensive CCTV systems have caught anything useful. These murders are brutal, mimicking the oft copied, never caught, Jack the Ripper, sparking a new round of Rippermania. In the midst of this Rory is trying to fit in to a new school and adjust to a different culture.

As if this isn’t enough, it seems Rory has seen the prime suspect on the school grounds but the strange thing is no one else has seen him. Rory doesn’t understand what is going on, but it appears this mystery man has taken an interest in her and she doesn’t know why, or what that means for her.

The Name of the Star is a mystery story with more than a touch of Ripper history. The addition of Rory being transplanted from the deep south to London adds an interesting and light hearted touch to a core story that would otherwise seem quite dark. The mystery is well fitted into the flow of Rory’s school adjustment and fledgling relationship. It is also pushed along by Jerome’s Ripper interest and budding journalistic drive.

Johnson has taken a story most of us think we know well and given it a modern twist and tweak. If you are looking for a mystery with a touch of the paranormal and a taste of London, then give this a look.

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

Published: 29 September 2011

Format: Paperback 400 pages

Categories: Ghosts, Mystery

ISBN 13: 9780007432264

Purchase: here or use Booktopia logo on side of page

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