Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian – book review

I get lots of book review requests from authors and publishers, so I always seem to have a huge list of books waiting to be read. I’ve now decided to make sure I have time to fit in books of my own choice. This is the first of these and I selected it on the basis to see if I thought it might appeal to either of my sons – one avid reader and one reluctant reader.

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

Here is the book blurb.

The story of young Willie Beech, evacuated to the country as Britain stands on the brink of the Second World War.

A sad, deprived child, he slowly begins to flourish under the care of old Tom Oakley – but his new-found happiness is shattered by a summons from his mother back in London.

As time goes by Tom begins to worry when Willie doesn’t answer his letters, so he goes to London to find him, and there makes a terrible discovery.

The story starts just as the Second World War is imminent. 8 year old Willie is evacuated to Little Weirwold and is billeted with Tom. He arrives “sewn in for the winter”, carrying only a small paper bag, malnourished, covered in bruises from beatings from his mother, cowering expecting Tom to beat him too and scared of Tom’s dog Sam.

“Sewn in for the winter” means his vest was sewn to his underpants for warmth and I don’t even wish to contemplate the implications for toilet needs. Willie is also a bed-wetter initially which is hardly surprising given the circumstances.

Tom has lived alone for many years since the death of his wife Rachel and baby son, and is considered a bad-tempered old man. Other villagers are surprised at the change in him as he begins to care for Willie, getting him clothes, boots and treats. Although Willie initially can’t read, Tom finds he has a fantastic aptitude for drawing.

Willie has never had friends before but becomes good friends with local children George, Carrie and Ginnie and evacuee Zach. By the time he is summoned back to London by his mother, he is a new boy. However everything changes when he returns to London and we see the darker side of the tale. Tom is worried when Willie doesn’t write and travels to London himself. What will he discover? And how can he deal with it?

Goodnight Mister Tom is available on Amazon. I highly recommend this excellent classic story, which is targeted at children age 9-12.

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12 thoughts on “Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian – book review

  1. sarahmo3w

    I’m pretty sure I read this as a child and know that two of my kids read it at primary school. Do you think your boys will like it?
    I think I read two books I was given to review before I decided that it wasn’t for me! I like choosing my own books far too much.


    1. mumjd Post author

      I think it will appeal to my youngest, but when I mentioned it to his brother (reluctant reader) he declined although he did say that he saw the film at school and liked that



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