Ada lives with a very abusive mother and her little brother, Jamie, in a flat in London at the beginning of WWII. Ada was born with a club foot, and her mother refuses to let her leave the flat for fear that someone will see her. She doesn't educate Ada, or even try to teach her to walk. When the children are evacuated from London and sent to the country at the beginning of the war, Ada sneaks out with her little brother, and they are sent to a village in the area of Kent. There they are taken in by a single lady who "doesn't like children." Miss Smith soon finds that caring for the neglected children fills a space in her own empty heart.
This was such a sweet book! This isn't like Heidi, or Polyanna, where the cheerful young girl brings life to an old lonely person. Ada arrives with a boat load of emotional issues. She loves being somewhere where an adult treats her like a real human being, but at the same time, she knows that it is only temporary, and if she opens her mind and heart now, it will only be more painful later. It takes a lot of patience and time for Ada and Miss Smith to come to trust each other. Also, the historical detail about the war is interesting. The reader really gets a sense of what the war might have been like for the British who didn't live in the big cities. I am glad it won the Newbery Honor.
The audio version of this book won the Odyssey award this year. If you are looking for a great book to listen to alone or with your family, this is a great choice. (320 p.)