Good Night, Mr. Tom
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Good Night, Mr. Tom

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  19,731 ratings  ·  889 reviews
London is poised on the brink of World War II. Timid, scrawny Willie Beech -- the abused child of a single mother -- is evacuated to the English countryside. At first, he is terrified of everything, of the country sounds and sights, even of Mr. Tom, the gruff, kindly old man who has taken him in. But gradually Willie forgets the hate and despair of his past. He learns to l...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 13th 1986 by HarperTeen (first published 1981)
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World War II Fiction
33rd out of 588 books — 958 voters
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23rd out of 100 books — 62 voters

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"Takes yer time, everythin' 'as its own time."

So I have this theory that whenever I read a book where there is a gruff old man who is prickly on the outside but a big softie in the middle, I will love it.

This book is one of my all-time favourites and I know I say that about every book, but I definitely mean it this time.
I first read it when I was about ten and I was in Year 5, learning about WW2 and the Blitz and evacuees. Seeing as I had read all the books we had to read and I was allowed to...more
May 30, 2008 Mimi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mimi by: Librarian Mrs. Wilson (middle school)
Such a beautiful, beautiful book. It was recommended to me by the librarian at my middle school who hosted a group called the Bookmunchers where nerdy ones, like myself, could eat their lunches in the library every Wednesday.

Even through the horrors facing people in WWII London we are shown the true love that can happen from makeshift families like that made up of Mr. Tom and Willie. It's a book that changed my life as a child. It made me feel safe to know that even when we're at the worst plac...more
We had to read this in primary school, and it's been one of my most-read, well-loved books ever since. It doesn't seem enough to say, "Oh, it's a really touching story," because it's so much more than that. Willie is a young boy who's been abused by his mother all his life, so when he's evacuated to the countryside he's a quivering nervous wreck. He expects to be beaten for everything he gets wrong. The widower he stays with, Tom Oakley, is gruff and blunt and has shunned company ever since his...more
Now here's a book I had to read for school. Primary school, in fact. I think I must have been in Year 5 or 6 (at the age of 10) when my teacher gave us this as the class reading book before we started studying World War II. (Years 5 and 6 at my school shared the same classroom and same materials. Aren't tiny little village schools with only 65 pupils great?) It made all of my class cry our eyes out.

Good Night, Mister Tom is set during World War II, and it's about a grouchy old man (Tom Oakley)...more
Alex Baugh
On September 1, 1939, Operation Pied Piper commenced and thousands of children were evacuated from London to the English countryside to keep them safe from the war that was just beginning.

Among the evacuees to Little Weinwold is William Beech, 8, left in the care of Tom Oakley, a widower and a rather crusty loner. William is much to small for his age, frightened of everything and covered in black and blue bruises. Inside he duffel, Tom find a belt with a large buckle and instructions to use it...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This story takes place against the backdrop of a charming and quirky English country town full of colorful characters.

Willie Beech is an abused nine-year-old boy. "Mr. Tom" Oakley is a sixty-year-old man who was widowed 40 years ago and became the town recluse/curmudgeon. The two are thrown together when Willie arrives at Mr. Tom's cottage as one of the WWII evacuee children from London. They both blossom as they learn to love and encourage each other. Mr. Tom comes out of his self-imposed "herm...more
The last time I read this book - 2008, I think - I said that I thought the writing was quite flat and unemotive. Re-reading this has changed my mind. It's just told simply, rather than unemotively. It's a children's book set in the Second World War and several bad things happen and, perhaps more importantly for a children's novel, they happen to good people. It would be in bad taste altogether to be too graphic or dramatic. The simple writing style just makes everything seem more true, somehow....more
Ciara Panic
I honestly have to ask- how did this novel get such a high rating? It was easily one of the worst novels I have ever read.

It’s the apparently ‘heartwarming’ story of Willie Beech, who is sent from London to the countryside during the second world war. He goes from living with an overly religious, abusive mother to the gruff but kind Tom, and develops, or something. It doesn’t really matter.

The characters are dire. Zack wins an award for being the most annoying dope I’ve ever seen in a novel. I a...more
Sara Darr
I remember reading this book whilst I was at primary school and again at secondary school when I developed a keen interest in history.

Magorian tells the story of Will Beech, an evacuee who is placed in the hands of Mr Tom Oakley at the start of WWII. However after spending a few months in the countryside, he is summoned back home to his mother where he is subjected to abuse, until he is rescued by Mr Tom. At first, you sense uncertainty as to what will become of Will and Tom but then as the sto...more
Tabitha Olson
Timid, scrawny, Willie Beech is the abused child of a single mother. She sends him to Mr. Tom, who lives in the English countryside, because London is being bombed by the Nazis.

The two main adults in this story, the mother and Mr. Tom, seem very similar in the beginning. Yet, by the end, we see that they are completely different. What really hit home was this: hard times can make hard people, but one's true colors shine through when faced with others in need.

Mr. Tom's gruff exterior is only hi...more
Wonderful book.

Nine year old William Beech is evacuated from war torn London, in the midst of World War 2. He is sent to Little Weirwold to live with the lonely, grumpy, Thomas Oakley.

During Will’s stay with Mister Tom, he learns many important life lessons academically, like to read and write and his talent for art and emotionally, such as learning to love and trust, gaining self -confidence and the importance of friendship. He experiences newfound luxuries, like a bed and full meals.

When we a...more
I first came across this story many years ago when it was on the TV and fell in love with it then. I discovered after that it was based on a book, which I hunted out and read. So I was looking for something to read next and this grabbed my eye for a re-read.

It really is a lovely story, which had me welling up at times. You can picture the boys confusion at never having been in the country and wondering what things were. I loved the way that Mister Tom becomes softer as the story goes on (althoug...more
Mehrin Ahmed
‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ by Michelle Magorian narrates the story of a young boy who is evacuated to the countryside. He comes from an upbringing of neglect, abuse and expects this to continue with Mr Tom Oakley, who he stays with. Mr Oakley is a stern, old widower who’s wife died leaving him to become cold and distant. Despite his efforts not to, Mr Oakley becomes fond of the young boy and they begin to form a unique bond. He senses that that the young boy has been abused and teaches him to read and l...more

I really hated this book. I mean really hated. Willie Beech is a complete Mary Sue, except for the fact he's a 9 year old boy.

He is way too perfect. He is amazing at everything he attempts, despite his situation (writing, maths, acting, socialising, art.) It's just too unbelievable.

His friends are incredibly boring, George and Ginny had no personality, Carrie was simply a token feminist and Zach was the only one who was written semi-decently, but he was just so irritating....more
I love this book. I love all the characters -- they're so well-developed, and some of them are very vibrant.
Girl with her Head in a Book
This one has been a firm favourite from the first time I read it back in the late 1990s. One of my mother's rules was that I was not to be bought any books which I had already read, a stipulation which made a great deal of sense given how quickly I went through books but it did mean that it could be suddenly very distressing to really fall in love with a book that I'd checked out from the library since I knew that we could only be together for a short time. Goodnight Mister Tom was the worst cas...more
Claire Conlon
Good night Mr. Tom, is such a perfect book for a year 6 class, although it has some very serious issues I think that it still appropriate as the children can relate to Willie. Willie has had a very hard life up to his evacuation from London. He was abused by his mother all of his life and does not realise that this is not the treatment that he deserves. Hence when he arrives he is expecting to get beaten for everything that he does wrong, believing he is a sinner. Willie is sent to live with Tom...more
I first read 'Goodnight Mr Tom' when I was teenager and I decided to read it again when I recently watched the tv adaptation of 'Goodnight Mr Tom' with John Thaw as Mr Tom, which I enjoyed. I also enjoyed the book the second time as much as I did the first time, this time around, I am older (and hopefully wiser) and the book meant more to me, especially the development of Willie from a frightened young boy to a happy, healthy and contented boy who has found the love he deserves and sees himself...more
In 1993 my grandmother sent me this book. I still have the letter she sent with it tucked inside the book. She said she saw it sitting on top of stack of books at the thrift store. The picture of the little boy on the cover caught her fancy so she picked it up. "That night I read until my eyes got to tired for more. I liked it and hope you do too. It's about a time long ago during World War 2 in England. A different kind of world than we have now. There are still good people like Mr. Tom. Have a...more
Read as a contender for read-aloud 12/13 school year. Tale of child evacuees from London at beginning of WWII.

Rare, heart-softening, heart-breaking, eventually heart-thrilling.

Magorian did a wonderful job with the whole thing, language, characters, landscape, how she dealt with hard things, how she envisions healing, how she envisions love and friendship, how she envisions how & why people need each other, how she envisions a true community. She really, really got into the minds of the cha...more
Claire Russell
I immediately thought of Goodnight Mr Tom as my favourite childhood book. I remember reading it and feeling so sad for Willie throughout the book, I don't think I'd been as drawn to any of the books I had read previously.

The book is set around the time of World War II when lots of children, particularly from the East end of London were evacuated to the country. Willie is taken to Tom Oakley's house, we later find out that Tom's wife and son have died some years earlier. Neither Tom or Willie ar...more
This book is set in Britain during WW2. During this time, many children were evacuated from the cities to live in the country. Willie Beech is one of these children. He is a small, timid and abused boy that gets the opportunity to experience a loving and caring home environment when he starts living with the recluse Mr Tom Oakley. He thrives living in the country especially when he befriends another young evacuee Zach and the other local children. Mr Tom treats him with kindness and cares for hi...more
This is a historical novel, set in the late 1930’s during WWII. It shows how the children in London were evacuated to small towns to live with strangers because the Nazis were bombing London.
The story is about a small boy named Willie Beech who is evacuated to Little Weirwold to live with an older man, Mr Thomas Oakley. Tom is not used to children. His only child died as an infant.But he is very kind to Willie. Willie is a malnourished, abused and deprived child who is afraid of everything. With...more
Sarah Shanahan
I remember reading this book in primary school and thoroughly enjoyed it. I had no problem picking it up again to read. This is a beautiful touching story. William Beech is a young boy who has been abused by his horrid mother all his life. During the Second World War he is evacuated to the countryside and is put into the care of Mr Tom. Mr Tom is a widower; he is gruff and blunt and has kept away from company ever since his wife died during childbirth. Mr. Tom was less than pleased when he was l...more
~contains spoilers~

I decided to read this novel as one of my previous teachers recommended it a few years back during year 8 so I decided to read it again and I still feel this book is really touching and an amazing read. It isn't something I'd normally read but I have to admit, most books I end up loving are ones people have recommended to me rather then choosing books for myself.

This novel completes the 'Teaches you about another time in history' category as this novel was set in England duri...more
This is another great book for my PWR as it is written for children but again, is set in the context of World War 2 on the home front and follows William's journey to the country after being evacuated from London because of the Blitz. It deals with some issues of serious nature, including; death, loss, grief and abuse but is done so very sensitively. This book would be great for a Year 5 or 6 class either to read as a class or individually, depending on the child's reading ability.

Lots can be do...more
Why have I never heard of this book before?! I was reading a BBC 100 Favorite Books list and saw this on it. Our school library happened to have it, so I checked it out - even though I had made a pact to stop reading "children's" books (Artemis Fowl did me in). I'm so glad I did because I loved it! Probably because although it won the 1982 IRA Children's Book Award, I would definitely not describe this as a children's book. It has some pretty disturbing allusions to and scenes of abuse, and also...more
I first read this book when I was at secondary school. Having read it again it reminded me of just how touching the story is.

The book is set during the second World War where children are being evacuated. A boy named Willie ends up staying with a character named Tom who Willie calls Mr Tom. With time Tom realises that Willie has been abused by his mother. During Willie's stay with Tom Willie becomes more a more happy and confident individual. Willie eventually returns to his mother where he suf...more
Dec 05, 2009 Libby rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People with nothing better to do
Recommended to Libby by: My school
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mariam Abood
As juvenile as it sounds, I remember reading this book as a little kid, and being in stiches about the fact the main character is called Willie. It's an alright book, most people I know love it, but I guess it was never really my cup of tea. I think it was due to the fact that as lovely as Mr Tom was, he seemed to think it was kinder to hit kids with his hands, rather than a belt. Though he never acted upon this belief of his, I still found it creepy.
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British children's author Michelle Magorian - author of the celebrated Goodnight, Mr. Tom (1981), which won The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize - was born in Southsea, Portsmouth, in 1947. She trained to be an actress, studying at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, and at Marcel Marceau's L'école Internationale de Mime in Paris. While pursuing an acting career, Magorian became interes...more
More about Michelle Magorian...
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“I’d rather be happy and odd than miserable and ordinary,' she said, sticking her chin in the air.” 33 likes
“It occurred to him that strength was quite different from toughness and that being vulnerable wasn't quite the same as being weak.” 5 likes
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