This is a great historical fiction about the beginning of World War II when Ada and her brother are sent from London to the countryside of Kent with other evacuee children. The story begins with Ada’s difficult life in London and her transition not only to country life, but also to a life of kindness, education, and love.
Ada is a ten year old, well maybe ten – the truth is her life in London is difficult and her mother not only is cruel to Ada, but does not even tell the poor girl know her birthday. Ada was born with a twisted foot and her mother has kept her held up in their one room flat due to shame and ignorance. When Ada learns from her little brother Jamie that children are being sent to the countryside she is determined to learn how to walk so that she can travel with her brother. Once they arrive at Kent, they are the last children left to be chosen. When they are placed with Susan, an education, but single woman in the village, they all must learn what it means to live as a temporary family.
Ada and Jamie rely on each other and through new experiences of country life, community, and love of two new pets, and curious ambition, they adapt to a new life. As Hitler invades Europe, their oasis in Kent begins to suffer wartime hardships. Susan helps Ada become a typical child and once they are told that Ada’s foot could be surgically fixed, Susan is sure that Ada’s mother will consent. War looms, bombs become a daily occurrence, still it is the looming presence of a cruel birth mother that haunts Ada. How long will she and Jamie get to stay in their new home? Will Hitler’s armies reach Kent? And will Ada finally get the medical treatment she deserves or will the cruel nature of her mom return to claim her children and lock Ada up in the one room flat? Now that Ada has experienced friendship and love and the prospect of a future, does she even want her mom to come for her?
This is a story of how strangers come together and form a family, all saving the other’s and lead to living a better, more fulfilled life of love and joy.
Newbery Honor (2016), Schneider Family Book Award for Middle School (2016), Odyssey Award (2016), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2017)