Cover image for Beautiful blue world / Suzanne LaFleur.
Beautiful blue world / Suzanne LaFleur.


First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Wendy Lamb Books, [2016]
Physical Description:
210 pages : map ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A Junior Library Guild Selection"--Front flap of dust jacket.
Sofarende is at war and the army is paying families well to recruit children, so if twelve-year-old Mathilde or her best friend Megs is chosen, they hope to help their families but fear they will be separated forever.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR 4.0.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
LAF Paperback Junior Fantasy / Sci-Fi

On Order



Beautiful Blue World is a thrilling and moving story of children who become the key to winning a war.

Sofarende is at war. For twelve-year-old Mathilde, it means food shortages, feuding neighbors, and bombings. Even so, as long as she and her best friend, Megs, are together, they'll be all right.

But the army is recruiting children, and paying families well for their service. If Megs takes the test, Mathilde knows she will pass. Megs hopes the army is the way to save her family. Mathilde fears it might separate them forever.

This touching and suspenseful novel is a brilliant reimagining of war, where even kindness can be a weapon, and children have the power to see what adults cannot.

Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, Outstanding Merit
ILA-CBC Choices Reading Lists, Teacher's Choice
Junior Library Guild Selection
Nominated for multiple state awards

Author Notes

Suzanne LaFleur is the author of Love, Aubrey; Eight Keys; and Listening for Lucca. She lives in New York City, where she decorates her walls with the handprints of children she loves. Visit her online at

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

LaFleur's endearing novel takes place in a fictional land during an unspecified, escalating war. As 12-year-old Mathilde Joss's hometown comes under increasing attacks, an offer to join the Adolescent Army for handsome pay to those selected tempts many families. Mathilde reluctantly sits for the aptitude exam and is shocked to be accepted-without her best friend Megs. Frightened about going to war and heartbroken over leaving her family and friend, Mathilde is surprised to arrive at a huge mansion, where the Adolescent Army is comfortably housed while they decode messages, predict bomb strikes, and set their nimble minds to help with the war effort. Confused as to what her own contribution might be and consumed with guilt over being protected when her family is not, she soon receives an unusual assignment that provokes questions of enmity, loyalty, and trust. LaFleur (Listening for Lucca) creates a warm boarding-school setting peopled with kind adults and children alike. Readers will be drawn in by the underlying belief that kids' work is important and powerful, and eager for the promised sequel. Ages 8-12. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In an alternate war-torn universe, twelve-year-old Mathilde takes a test to qualify for a secret (seemingly sinister) military operation, which necessitates leaving her family and best friend, perhaps forever. She unexpectedly passes and is sent to an idyllic Bletchley Parklike organization for brainy kids. The plot unfolds clumsily, but Mathilde's struggles and her sympathetic personality carry readers through to a cliffhanger ending. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



1     Megs and I froze on my front step.   We'd seen the notices on our walk home, pinned to every door, fluttering in the chill winter breeze: white butterflies tacked down, wishing to fly free.   It was better to think of them that way, like butterflies.   Because they also looked like white flags of surrender.   "Did you get one?" I asked, craning my neck to check two doors down, where Megs lived.   "Everyone did."   I looked at her, my best friend and opposite-twin, her dark braids mirroring my light ones. She realized the edge in her tone. It had snuck in, at least once a day, since her father had left to fight. Been ordered to fight.   It's not you she's mad at.   Her bright blue eyes, watering in the cold, took me in. A smile came to them as one appeared across her pink, chapped cheeks. "Come on, let's see what mine says." She offered her hand, led me past the Hellers' between us, to her own house. "See, we're assigned together! Whatever it is, it won't be so bad, Mathilde."   "But--why do we need shelter assignments?"   Mother, waiting for me to get home, opened our front door. She saw me and smiled, lifted her hand to wave. But then she spotted the notices across the street and turned to read ours. She grew very still; her smile disappeared.   Mrs. Heller opened her door, too. She read her notice, looked around at all of us. Her face swelled like a boiled red potato.   "Now you're going to be living at my house?"   "Living? How long do you expect us to be down there?" Mother asked.   "Who knows? Maybe forever. But your family's not to become a burden on our family; you'd better send over some food stores--"   "Food stores? I'm not sending my food stores over to your basement. You'll eat them!"   "Are you accusing me of being a thief?"   "That's what you've implied I am!"   My little sisters came to the doorway: Kammi, who had beaten me home from school, and Tye, blouse untucked and short braids falling out. I raced home, Megs at my heels. "Come on," I said to my sisters. "Come inside."   I quickly shut the door. The house was cold. There wasn't enough fuel for fires during the day anymore.   "Here, Tye, let's find your sweater." A sweater that had once been mine, and then Kammi's, and now had patches on the elbows.   "Catch me!" Tye shrieked.   She didn't need to know that I felt wobbly, that we might be headed to live in the basement next door. I chased her into the living room, grabbed her by the ankles, and held her upside down.   "I'm upside down! I'm upside down!" She giggled.   Poor Tye had never known the world right-side up. Before Tyssia decided they wanted all of it for themselves; before they took over the Skaven lands, before they joined with Erobern.   Before they were coming for us.   Mother came in and slammed the door. I dropped Tye, who rolled away, laughing.   "Why are we going to the Hellers' basement?" I asked Mother.   "Ours is too shallow."   "Too shallow for what?"   I followed her into the kitchen, where she loaded up a box with tins and jars. There hadn't been that much in the pantry to begin with. Don't grumble, don't grumble, I told my stomach as the shelves emptied.   Mother handed me the heavy box, adjusting the red scarf around my neck and freeing my braids. "Take this next door."   Was she afraid, like Mrs. Heller, that we were going to have to live in their basement?   For how long?   Forever?   I looked at Megs, who shrugged.   "Why don't you do your homework at Megs's house?" Mother said.   "Why is she mad at you? You didn't ask the government to send those notices."   And wouldn't Mrs. Heller want to help us, if there was some kind of emergency? She was our neighbor. Kammi played with her daughter.   Mother smiled, grazed her knuckle down my cheek. "Don't you worry. Run along."   Megs and I walked to the Hellers' in silence. Megs knocked. When Mrs. Heller answered, she looked less like a boiled potato, but she took our box with a huff and slammed the door.   "It's probably like a drill," Megs said as we walked to her house. "Like fire drills at school. We practice those all the time, and have we ever had a fire? No. We'll probably never have to go to her stupid basement."   She ripped down her family's notice on the way through the door. She stopped to look me in the eye.   "Even if we do, we'll be together. Whatever happens, I'll be with you." Excerpted from Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.