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Good Night, Mr. Tom (1981)

by Michelle Magorian

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,529675,613 (4.31)129
A battered child learns to embrace life when he is adopted by an old man in the English countryside during the Second World War.
  1. 20
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne (kiwiflowa)
    kiwiflowa: Another pre-teen book set in the same era.
  2. 10
    Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans (RoxieF)
    RoxieF: They both involve evacuees during WWII and in both books it brings out subtle changes in both evacuee and guardian.
  3. 00
    Kindertransport by Olga Levy Drucker (labfs39)
    labfs39: In both books, a child is sent to the English countryside for safety during WWII, and both deal with the relationships between child and caregiver. In Good night, Mr. Tom, the child is escaping the Blitz bombing in London; whereas in Kindertransport, the child is escaping Nazi Germany.… (more)
  4. 11
    Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce (bookel)
  5. 00
    Judgement Day by Penelope Lively (KayCliff)
  6. 00
    The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren (Anonymous user)
  7. 00
    The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (2wonderY)
    2wonderY: very similar premise, also well done.
  8. 01
    A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (ramblingivy)

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» See also 129 mentions

English (66)  Italian (1)  All languages (67)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
I read this book for the first time when I was in Form 3 at school. It was part of our curriculum, and the book stayed with me for a very long time after reading it for the first time. I think it was the first book I read that depicted child abuse in writing, that didn’t shy away from difficult topics. It probably introduced me to a world of more adult fiction, even though it was essentially a book written for children. The fact that the book plays with reality so well really has helped it leave a special place in my heart, not least because it was also probably the first book I ever enjoyed studying while reading.
Goodnight Mister Tom is about the unlikely friendship, bond and love that forms between a wizened, bitter old man who lives in the country, and the little boy from London who is evacuated and brought to live with him. Tom, a man who has become embittered with age, especially after the death of his wife and baby boy, reluctantly takes upon the responsibility of looking after Willie, but very quickly realizes that the boy has never known a loving relationship from a parent, and soon starts to open up and become warmer to people in general while showing Willie what true paternal love is.
The book deals with so many different themes – war, death, the love between family members, chosen family, loss, change, child abuse, puberty, education. The list goes on and on. The book manages to fit so many different topics in without feeling like it’s trying to be preachy or trying to make a statement. It is a book that is, quite simply, explaining the reality of a situation in a small village during World War Two, with the addition of a wonderful cast of characters that really lend themselves to the story.
I don’t want to spoil how the story plays out, or how it tears at your heartstrings in ways that you didn’t think possible. I will say that it is a happy ending, and it is a wonderful book for people of all ages to read. It is, actually, a wonderful book for children aged twelve and up, children who can identify with the main characters and who are probably learning about the world wars in their history classes at school. If anybody is curious about war fiction and doesn’t know where to start, this book is probably a very safe bet.
Final rating: 5/5 stars. A wonderful read and a nice quick one too (I recall finishing it in about two days). ( )
  viiemzee | Feb 20, 2023 |
Bellissimo, una storia avvincente e molto emozionante, ad alto contenuto drammatico ma che riesce ad essere anche molto tenera e confortante. ( )
  Raffaella10 | Jan 28, 2023 |
Good book about young boy in wartime England and his frienship with an older man. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
When I read a book like this one, I try to imagine what my eight or ten year-old self would have thought of it. I’m pretty sure she would have loved this and read it more than once. It is beautifully written, very sweet and uplifting, and inspires kindness and a view of the world as a place that will rescue you.

William Beech is an evacuee from London during WWII, and Tom Oakley is the reclusive elderly man who has the boy foisted upon him. Will is a child who has been abused and bullied and his fear is evident almost immediately to Mr. Tom, who is a very kind man at heart. The reader witnesses the growing relationship that saves these two people, who don’t always fit with the rest of the world, as they face both everyday life and some traumatic experiences together.

I believe this would make an excellent book to read with a young person. They would learn a lot about life during WWII, you could talk about what it takes to make a family, how to overcome the difficulties life throws at you, and both of you could enjoy a good story and a fun read.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
As an ardent anglophile, I loved this wartime novel -- the setting in a small town during WWII and the slow unfurling of the characters was just delightful. I read it, initially, because someone I know is annoyed at The War That Saved My Life, and feels that it was a bad knockoff of this book. I have to say that I liked them both, for different reasons, and while they share the major plotline of an abused child benefiting from the London evacuations, I think they are very different books. This one is for a more mature audience, and confronts worse things, I think, or at least, more extreme ones. Nonetheless, a lovely idyll about love and fresh air and kindness. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
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To My Father
First words
"Yes," said Tom bluntly, on opening the door. "What d'you want?"
(in hospital, Willie is sedated) "Why?" "To stop him from screaming." "Mebbe he needs to."
(nightmare scream) It sounded like a baby crying in despair, an old forgotten scream that must have been swallowed down years before.
Zach swayed gently saying the few Hebrew prayers that he remembered. It comforted him to sing the strange gutteral sounds. It was like uttering a magical language that would make everything alright.
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This is the book; do not combine with the film/movie.
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A battered child learns to embrace life when he is adopted by an old man in the English countryside during the Second World War.

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Average: (4.31)
1 4
2 10
3 54
3.5 8
4 137
4.5 32
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Penguin Australia

4 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140372334, 0141804041, 014132970X, 0141332255


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