By Suzanne LaFleur
An exploration of war from the perspective of Mathilde, a twelve-year-old girl who is kind, sensitive, and smart. Though the war is between fictitious lands (Mathilde and her best friend Megs live in Sofarende, which is being invaded by the Tyssians), the motives and repercussions ring true to any war-torn time and place. The story has a WWII feel, with bombings, rations, much-coveted train tickets to distant lands, and a general sense of a time gone by (there are no cell phones, for example).
What really sets the story apart, though, is that in Beautiful Blue World, children are integral to the war effort. Far from the battlefield, children are both empowered and ensnared by the adults in charge. Mathilde’s story is one of sadness and triumph. The reader cheers along with her as she finally asserts her agency and sees the power in her greatest asset: her compassion for others. There is plenty of ambiguity to make the reader beg for the next installment and wonder about Mathilde’s choices. I highly recommend!