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Beautiful Blue World

by Suzanne LaFleur

Published by Wendy Lamb Books / Random House, 2016
210 pages
ISBN: 978-0-385-74300-6


Mathilde, 12, thinks her best friend, Meg, top of their class, will be chosen by the government to help in their country Sofarende’s ongoing war against invading Tyssia. But Mathilde is the one selected. Joining a group of gifted children on an estate masquerading as a private school, she discovers that their job is to apply their unique creative and analytical thinking to each day’s most pressing situations, such as where to amass defenses against night raids. Surrounded by kids as smart or smarter than Meg, Mathilde doesn’t feel like she belongs. But Mathilde’s gift turns out to be her compassion, and as she builds trust with Rainer, the young Tyssian prisoner she’s assigned to spend time with, they each humanize the enemy for the other. Mathilde realizes he has been traumatized, too, by a war in which he had little choice about fighting. And she does, indeed, learn something of value: The Tyssians will not hesitate to bomb a school. This compelling, accessible work of speculative fiction is set in an imagined world much like our own, with a setting reminiscent of Europe during World War II and themes that resonate today. A second book will continue Mathilde’s story, which ends here in the midst of a chaotic escape as the enemy advances. (Ages 8–12)  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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