November 2018

The War that Saved my Life

The War that Saved my Life

by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Nine-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute; she sneaks out to join him.

So begins a new adventure for Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

A Note from the First Lady

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

This is a moving story about a young girl in England who overcomes all odds to flee to safety during the Second World War. We are taken along for the ride as courageous Ada leaves home and begins to realize the true meaning of freedom. This book is rich with history and heart, and I hope it encourages you to think about some things that you are grateful for as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this month. 

Another special part about this book is that the author, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, lives in Tennessee just like you and me! She used her imagination to come up with Ada’s story that takes place a long time ago in England. You can email author Kimberly Bradley Brubaker to invite her to come to your school to hear about her experience writing this book. And maybe one day you will become a Tennessee author just like her!  

Keep up the great reading!

Crissy Haslam

First Lady of Tennessee

Fun Family Activities

1. Compare and Contrast: As you read the first few chapters, notice the similarities and differences in Ada and Jamie. Make two lists: one of all the things that the brother and sister duo have in common, and one of those things that make them different from each other. Pay special attention to their personality traits, to their daily experiences, and to how they are treated by Mam and others.Once you get closer to the end of the book, make two more lists. Compare and contrast Ada at the beginning of the book with Ada at the end of the book. How is she different and how is she the same? Why do you think she might be different at the end of the book?

2. Historical Fiction: There are many places, people, things and ideas in this book that really existed in England and around the globe during World War II. Choose one or two topics below to research further. Make sure to find out what your topic was, who was involved, where it took place and why. Pretend you are a spy during the war. What would you see if you were spying on your topic? How does Ada experience or learn about your topic?  

Anderson Shelters, The Women’s Volunteer Service, Dunkirk Evacuations, German Spies, The Battle of Britain, The Royal Oak, Rationing, Victory Gardens

3. Major Themes: On page 86, Ada asks Miss Smith about the meaning of freedom. What does Miss Smith say? What does the word freedom mean to you? How do you think Ada experiences freedom during this story? How have you experienced freedom? What makes you feel free?  How does war threaten one’s freedom?

Write a letter to a U.S. soldier explaining what freedom means to you and thanking the soldier for their service to our country. Be sure to include some illustrations to go along with your heartfelt words!

4. Further Reading: Visit your local library to find some other stories that take place during World War II. If you liked this book, you may also enjoy: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Otto: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear by Tomi Ungerer, Star of Fear, Star of Hope by Jo Hoestlandt, or The Lion and the Unicorn by Shirley Hughes. Be sure to also check out The War I Finally Won, Bradley’s sequel to The War that Saved My Life that follows Ada through her continued journey during the war.