Goodnight Mister Tom

Front Cover
Puffin, 2006 - Child abuse - 303 pages
Willie Beech is evacuated to the countryside as the Second World War breaks out.

A sad, deprived child, he slowly begins to flourish under the care of old Tom Oakley.

But then his mother summons him back to war-torn London...

Will he ever see Mister Tom again?

One of the best stories about wartime ever written.

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For ELB10 class. I have to say I was deeply moved by this book, it's so sensitive and careful and delicate. I almost cried when Zach died and when the book was about to end. Apart from the fact that it's a moving, emotional book, I've learnt so much about writing, about novel, and so much about English literature while studying this book. I've learnt how to make a dramatic structure chart; I've learnt about the thematical characters. Thanks to Mr. Wilderman. Finished this book in a month, quite a thick book, I felt a sense of triumph when I finished the last chapter, together with the "happiness" in Willie's words. Oh such a brilliant book! [Oct-Nov, 2012] 

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Goodnight, Mr Tom is one of the most moving pieces of children's literature I have ever read. Michelle Magorian writes this novel about William Beech a young evacuee sent away from London to live in the countryside during WWII. Mr Thomas Oakley, an elderly widowed man, has never been the same since his beloved wife died. Together the two form an unlikely friendship and help each other to heal from their own personal wounds.
The title refers to the name Willie calls his guardian, when he is going to bed, "Goodnight, Mr Tom," When Willie first arrives the reader immediately realises that he has suffered. We are told how thin he is, that he is a bed-wetter and overly anxious all the time. He is can't even read or write. Through Michelle's brilliant descriptions we learn how he is feeling, the embarrassment, the fear of making mistakes and getting punished.
As the bruises begin to fade Willie learns how to trust again. It is a slow painful process, but at the same time Mr Tom begins to come to terms with his wife's death. He begins to interact with the boy and instead of keeping himself to himself slowly begins to communicate with everyone again. Tom and Willie bring out the best in each other. Willie discovers painting and Tom discovers how to live again after being like a recluse grieving for his wife and child.
Zach, who is an evacuee becomes friends with Willie, helping him to develop more self-confidence. He is loud, outspoken and fearless just the tonic that the insecure Willie Beech needs. Just as Willie becomes more confident then his mother requests him to visit her once more. Tom isn't happy about him leaving but knows he has to let the boy go. When Willie visits his mother he is in for a shock and once again it is Tom who comes to his rescue.
Be prepared to cry, as there are chunks of description that may tear at your heartstrings. The novel could prove to be a great counselling resource as a way into difficult topics, such as child abuse, love and loss, relationships and overcoming insecurities. A very emotive story, so expertly written that many readers may become deeply involved with the characters and care for them.

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About the author (2006)

Michelle Magoriancombines her two careers as actress and writer. Her very first book, Goodnight Mister Tom, propelled her to fame and is widely regarded as a modern classic.


Born- Southsea, Portsmouth, November 6th 1947

Jobs- Actress

Lives- Petersfield

First Book- Goodnight Mister Tom, 1981


Michelle Magorian never set out to be an author. Her long-held ambition was to be an actress. She studied at The Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama and Marcel Marceau's International School of Mime in Paris. Whilst in Paris, she began a journal. After finishing her training, she embarked on work in touring and repertory theatre companies, continuing to scribble away in secret. It was in this environment that Michelle wrote Goodnight Mister Tom. Whilst researching Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle came across a photograph of a group of English children on a liner, returning from America to England. This picture inspired her second novel, Back Home. Michelle achieved her ambition of becoming an actress and has worked in theatre, television and film. Appropriately, both Goodnight Mister Tomand Back Homehave been adapted for television. Back Homewas also adapted for BBC Radio 4 and Goodnight Mr Tomhas been performed as a stage musical.


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