Booktalk for THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada was born with a club foot, which means it twists in on itself, and she can’t walk. She gets around her family’s one-room apartment by scooting sitting down. She loves looking out their one window, three stories above the streets of London. Her mother doesn’t let her leave the apartment. Ever. Not even to go to school. In ten years, Ada has never been allowed outside.

Then the war comes. This is World War II. Hitler is taking over Europe, and the British expect that Germany will start bombing London soon. The children in the city are being sent to the countryside — they have to go live with total strangers, but at least they’ll be safer than they would be in the city with the war going on.

Ada’s little brother Jamie is being evacuated with the rest of the neighborhood schoolkids, but their mother sees no reason for Ada to leave. But Ada is determined to go with her brother — even though it means sneaking past her mom and getting herself to the gathering point on her useless foot.

Everything Ada knows about the outside world comes from either looking out a third story window or talking to her 6-year-old brother. There are so many things she’s never seen or imagined: grass, ponies, enough to eat…and a woman named Susan who doesn’t want two kids from London living with her, but who just might get Ada her first pair of crutches and even teach her to read.

Genre: historical fiction

Grades 4-7.


Anna’s take on it:

I’ve seen quite a bit of interest in this title, especially from fifth and sixth graders. There’s usually a gasp around the room when they hear that Ada has never been outside. They can’t imagine never having seen grass.

A number of kids who have read The War That Saved My Life report really liking it. When I was setting up for a 5/6 blend class one time, a boy saw it on my display table and told me, “This is the best book in the world.” He said it again as I was packing up to leave. In another school, a sixth grade girl told me that she’d read the book four times since I booktalked it in her class on my previous visit.