Good Night, Mr. Tom

( 55 )

Overview

London is poised on the brink of World War 11. 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 love a world he never knew existed, a world of friendship and affection in which harsh words and daily beatings have no place. Then a telegram ...

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Overview

London is poised on the brink of World War 11. 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 love a world he never knew existed, a world of friendship and affection in which harsh words and daily beatings have no place. Then a telegram comes. Willie must return to his mother in London. When weeks pass by with no word from Willie, Mr. Tom sets out for London to look for the young boy he has come to love as a son.

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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Editorial Reviews

New Yorker
An engrossing and poignant story, with much sunlight tobalance the darkness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780064401746
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/28/1986
  • Series: A Trophy Bk.
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 101,914
  • Age range: 13 - 15 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Michelle Magorian was born in Portsmouth, England, and grew up in such diverse places as Perth, Australia, and Singapore. She now makes her home in London.

An actress, dancer, and writer by profession, Ms. Magorian has worked with numerous touring and repertory companies, and spent two years training as a mime at Marcel Marceau's world-renowned L'Ecole Intenationale de Mime in Paris, France. An absorbing interest in the history and nature of children's books led her to try her hand at writing for younger readers. Good Night, Mr. Tom -- Which is her first book -- grew out of a short story she had written about the meeting of the two main characters. As Ms. Magorian explains, "I had to know what happened -- so I wrote the book."

Her other writing credits include a television play and poetry.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Meeting

"Yes," said Tom bluntly, on opening the front door. "What d'you want?"

A harassed middle-aged woman in a green coat and felt hat stood on his step. He glanced at the armband on her sleeve. She gave him an awkward smile.

"I'm the Billeting Officer for this area," she began.

"Oh yes, and what's that got to do wi' me?"

She flushed slightly. "Well, Mr., Mr..."

"Oakley. Thomas Oakley."

"Ah, thank you, Mr. Oakley." She paused and took a deep breath. "Mr. Oakley, with the declaration of war imminent..."

Tom waved his hand. "I knows all that. Git to the point. What d'you want?" He noticed a small boy at her side.

"It's him I've come about," she said. "I'm on my way to your village hall with the others."

"What others?"

She stepped to one side. Behind the large iron gate that stood at the end of the graveyard was a small group of children. Many of them were filthy and very poorly clad. Only a handful had a blazer or coat. They all looked bewildered and exhausted.

The woman touched the boy at her side and pushedhim forward.

"There's no need to tell me," said Tom. "It's obligatory and it's for the war effort."

"You are entitled to choose your child, I know," began the woman apologetically.

Tom gave a snort.

"But," she continued, "his mother wants him to be with someone who's religious or near a church. She was quite adamant. Said she would only let him be evacuated if he was."

"Was what?" asked Tom impatiently.

"Near a church."

Tom took a second look at the child. The boy was thin and sickly looking, pate with limp sandy hair anddull gray eyes.

"His name's Willie," said the woman.

Willie, who had been staring at the ground, looked up. Round his neck, hanging from a piece of string, was a cardboard label. It read "William Beech."

Tom was well into his sixties, a healthy, robust, stockily built man with a head of thick white hair. Although he was of average height, in Willie's eyes he was a towering giant with skin like coarse, wrinkled brown paper and a voice like thunder.

He glared at Willie. "You'd best come in," he said abruptly.

The woman gave a relieved smile. "Thank you so much," she said, and she backed quickly away and hurried down the tiny path towards the other children. Willie watched her go.

"Come on in," repeated Tom harshly. "I ent got all day."

Nervously, Willie followed him into a dark hallway. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust from the brilliant sunshine he had left to the comparative darkness of the cottage. He could just make out the shapes of a few coats hanging on some wooden pegs and two pairs of boots standing below.

"S'pose you'd best know where to put yer things," muttered Tom, looking up at the coat rack and then down at Willie. He scratched his head. "Bit'igh fer you. I'd best put in a low peg."

He opened a door on his left and walked into the front room, leaving Willie in the hallway still clutching his brown carrier bag. Through the half-open door he could see a large black cooking stove with a fire in it and an old threadbare armchair nearby. He shivered. Presently Tom came out with a pencil.

"You can put that ole bag down," he said gruffly. "You ent goin' no place else."

Tom handed him the pencil. He stared blankly up at him.

"Go on," said Tom. "I told you before, I ent got all day. Now make a mark so's I know where to put a peg, see." Willie made a faint dot on the wall beside the hem of one of the large coats. "Make a nice big un so's I can see it clear, like." Willie drew a small circle and filled it in. Tom leaned down and peered at it. "Neat little chap, ent you? Gimme yer mackintosh and I'll put it on top o' mine fer now."

With shaking fingers Willie undid his belt and buttons, peeled off the mackintosh and held it in his arms. Tom took it from him and hung it on top of his greatcoat. He walked back into the front room "Come on," he said. Willie followed him in.

It was a small, comfortable room with two windows. The front one looked out onto the graveyard, the other onto a little garden at the side. The large black stove stood solidly in an alcove in the back wall, a thick dark pipe curving its way upward through the ceiling. Stretched out beneath the side window were a few shelves filled with books, old newspapers and odds and ends, and by the front window stood a heavy wooden table and two chairs. The flagstoned floor was covered with a faded crimson, green and brown rug. Willie glanced at the armchair by the stove and the objects that lay on top of the small wooden table beside it: a pipe, a book and a tobacco jar.

"Pull that stool up by the fire and I'll give you somethin' to eat." Willie made no movement..."Go on, sit down, boy," he repeated. "You got wax in your ears?"

Willie pulled a small wooden stool from a corner and sat down in front of the fire.

Tom cooked two rashers of bacon and placed a slab of bread, with the fresh bacon drippings beside it, on a plate. He put it on the table with a mug of hot tea. Willie watched him silently, his bony elbows and knees jutting out angularly beneath his thin gray jersey and shorts. He tugged nervously at the tops of his woolen socks and a faint smell of warm rubber drifted upwards from his white sneakers.

Good Night, Mr. Tom. Copyright © by Michelle Magorian. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 55 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(49)

4 Star

(5)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 55 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2000

    A True Heartache

    The book Good Night Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian, was a book I extremely enjoyed reading. When I first looked at the title, I wasn¡¯t too attracted to reading the book but once I caught the basic idea on what it was about on the inside, I was eager to read it. I¡¯m glad I did, because this book is one of the most heartbreaking stories I have read. The story starts out very nicely, introducing the main character, William aka Willie aka Will. Unlike some books, the beginning of the story catches your attention and does throughout the whole book. The sad part is; Will is an evacuee and constantly gets seriously abused by his mother. With no father to help him out and his mother not willing to take him during a war, Will is sent house after house with other children to be accepted somewhere else. Will¡¯s mother is a religious type but takes everything to another dangerous and extreme level that hurts herself as well as her son. Will is very lucky and ends up in a small town named Little Weirwold with Thomas Oakley, or whom Will learned to call, Mister Tom. Hardened by the loss of his son and wife, he gradually starts to accept Will and in a way, takes him in as his own son. After making friends, discovering talents, creating memories and going on wild adventures, he slowly regains the childhood that he missed. Learning that his before life was not suppose to be, Will is reluctant to return to his mother because she is ¡°sick.¡± The rest of the story is something you need to find out yourself. Even I cannot express the joy and sorrows with reading this heart touching story. Only the readers can feel this by encountering it for themselves. The reason this book received the rating it did (5 stars) is because it was so nicely put together. It makes the reader see the innocence of Will when it's such a heart break just to see him learning new things that're common to us. Michelle Magorian also brought out the infinite patience and love of Mister Tom. This made the story even more special because of the hero role he plays to Will. Another reason is because she makes the conclusion and ending worthwhile the read. It was as if the only reason I was reading the book was to get to the end. The final important reason was because the whole book was exciting. I cannot remember one moment in the book where I wanted to stop. The experiences little William went through, became a part of me and I wanted to encourage this character as he went struggling through his rough life. Overall, this book was very satisfying. I hope to read more books like this in the future... a true heartache.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2000

    Read This Book!!

    I have owned the same copy of this book since 1986 and I still make time to read it. This is one of only two books that I can read over and over again and still love every word. I could easily picture myself there with Willie in Little Weirworld. There's just something about it I can't explain, but I usually can't put it down until I'm done. 'Good Night, Mr. Tom' is easily my favorite book of all time!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Very compelling

    This has got to be one of my favorite books of all time! I cried, I laughed, I got angry. I experienced all the emotions the characters did. It is so touching and so compelling that I could read it over and over again and still love every word just as much as the last time. I have given this book as a gift to many people ans will keep on doing so, because I believe everyone should read this book no matter what your age. Truly amazing!

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    One of my all time favorite books!

    My fondest memories of this book come from our school librarian reading it to our class. I was a middle-schooler then and become so engaged in the story that when our school Book Fair came I had to beg my parents for the money to by the book. I read and re-read it many times over. Well worth owning and I would recommend it as a great family read, too.

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Emotional

    When you read this book people will grasp how difficult the war must have been for the children. Not only did Will suffer from the war but his own mother's abuse as well. Everyone should read this book no matter how young or old. It is very impacting.

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  • Posted November 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    awesome

    great read. had to read this for a english class. reading because i have to is not fun but this boook was off the hook I could not put it down wondering what would happen next great book for any reading level easy to understand and great story you will love the characters

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A heartwarming story

    My grandson introduced me to this book because he loved it. I did too and it gave us much to talk about. The story of a young boy during the Second World War touches on all your emotions. It is hard to believe such a story could be decided as a real "page turner", but this one is. We would highly recommend this book.

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    Wonderful Story

    I have just finished this wonderful book, and I recommend this book to you because it is a very interesting and emotional story.<BR/><BR/>There are two main characters; Mister Tom and William. Mister Tom is a friendly man at the end, he makes a wonderful relationship with an evacuee called William. Tom takes a lot of care of William.<BR/><BR/>This gripping story takes place in the country-side during World War 2 .There IS a lot of mystery and it is really emotional plot. There is death , happiness and a lot more.<BR/><BR/>This book is very enjoyable and if the characters are sad it some times make you sad. <BR/><BR/><BR/>I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. <BR/><BR/>From Nicola Kai Kemp

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2008

    A reviewer

    i loved this book i loved it mostly because the advice and love Mr.Tom gives to Willie LOVED IT SOO much. It was the fav book ever read it I read few weeks ago for my 7th grade report on World War II. So i chose this book and I'm glad i picked it out. It really grips your attention to the characters and the war in Great Britain. IT WAS EXCELLENT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2008

    Great Book

    I read this book in middle school and loved it. Now years leater it is still one of my favorite books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2007

    Mr. Tom

    This book is a story of a young boy who comes to live with Mr. Tom in little country called Little Weirwold this story is based on a historical fiction, it took place at time when London was at war and the children had to be evacuated for their safety. Willie the child that came to live with Mr. Tom was very afraid and didn¿t know what to expect, but he knew that he had to be a good boy or bad things would happen to him, the same kinds of things that happened at home when his mom said he was being bad. Mr. Tom takes Willie in because it is the right thing to do he wasn¿t expecting to open his heart as much as he did. Mr. Tom noticed that Willie was a very scared little boy and he couldn¿t read or write. Willie never had friends and he had some strange marks on his body. Willie goes to school makes friends and is having a happy life. Willie hopes to stay with Mr. Tom forever, but one day a message comes and Willie has to return home. Both Willie and Mr. Tom are very sad that they have to part because they have grown to love one another as Father and son. When Willie returns home Mr. Tom becomes very worried, because he hasn¿t heard from Willie and he suspects that something is very wrong, Mr. Tom is so worried that he sets out to find Willie and what he finds will break your heart, Mr. Tom arrives on time and when you read this book you will be very glad that he did. The strengths of this book is that you feel a lot of emotion, when you read you may even cry tears of sadness at first but, maybe tears of joy and a sigh of relief. When Willie first comes he doesn¿t know about happiness only sadness .When he leaves he knows how it feels to be happy. The weakness of this book is that it doesn¿t start out very exciting and if you don¿t keep reading the first few pages you may not finish the book. If you like to read this is a good book and I would recommend it to anyone even if you don¿t like to read because you can see how important it is to help someone who need you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Review of Good Night Mr.Tom

    I enjoyed reading ¿Good Night Mr. Tom.¿ By Michelle Magorian. This book is a historical novel. The story takes place at the beginning of World War II. The story starts out with a young boy named Will having to leave his home. He is sent away because of the bombing. It became to dangerous to live in London. Will and the other children were sent to the country for their own safety. Mr. Tom is asked to take care of Will. He has lost his wife and child. Mr. Tom notices that Will is extremely nervous of making a mistake. Mr. .Tom wonders what Will¿s lie was like back in London. He later notices many bruises on Will¿s body. While Will was with Tom he learned to be happy and enjoy life. Will wasn¿t as shy and nervous any more. He started to make friends. Mr. Tom became like a father to Will. This book really made it feel like you were there at that time. I felt like the author drew me into the story. I wondered what was going to happen next. The characters in the story felt like real people. I feel like I would not change a thing in this story. The author always keeps you interested. I always wanted to know what would happen to the characters next. I never felt like there was a boring part in this book. I would recommend this book. It made me see how children¿s lives were like back then. I felt like they had a rough life. They always had to watch out for danger. The author brings you in to the story. This book is for readers that like books about people over coming rough and dangerous times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2006

    jannah tomson

    this book was the most, i don't even think i can describe it but, i can say it was the best book i've ever read and for a sixth grader who doesn't really think the best of everything i fell in love with it. At first i thought great another thick book but later on i began to love it and now i read the book every 2 months i would recomend it to anyone who wouldn't mind crying every last drop of tears.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2005

    Still one of my all-time favorites

    I was assigned this book to read in 8th grade. Like usual, I left it till Sunday night to read...we were supposed to read the first 2 chapters and I ended up finishing the book in one night. I still re-read it over and over again. The characters are wonderful and the story is amazing. I highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2005

    THE BEST BOOK I HAVE EVER READ!

    This was such a sad book! I loved it anyway! I recommend this to anybody!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2005

    an amazing book

    I first read this book when i was in 5th grade. I bawled my eyes out and it has been a favorite ever since. I have probably read this book at LEAST once a year for the past 11 os so years, and its not because i have a small IQ. It is an amazing book that shows life at its best and worst. It grips your heart as the characters and their lives unfold before you. I never get sick of reading it. I would definitly recommend this book to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2005

    So Sad

    I think it was very well written, but I just can't take much of those sad type of books. You know, the type of books that are full of dreadful and sorrow things most people can't imagine. I did like the book, but if you read it, I see watery eyes in the future for ya.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2005

    wicked good book

    I was assigned the book Good Night, Mr. Tom to read by my english teacher. i was upset at the fact that i had to read a book amungst the piles of homework i recieved each night. but after completing a few chapters, i fell in love with this book. i am so glad that my english teacher has assigned this book to be read. i recommend this book to anyone. it is truely one of my favorite books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2005

    My All Time Favorite Book!

    Hello Everyone! I really love Good Night, Mr. Tom. My all time favorite teacher gave this book to me to read. I am in her a/e class and that was the very last book on her shelf that I haven't read. I had the dream when I came to her class in grade 3 that I would read all of her books. As I sat in my bed at night, I finished the book and started to cry because I knew that this means that I would leave her soon. I am in grade 5 now, and am about to graduate from elementary school. I'd like to dedicate this review to Mrs.P, my favorite teacher.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2004

    Goodnight Mr.Tom

    i believe that this is one of the good books. i'm sure that when you read it, you will impress with the love between Willie and Mr.Tom. the love between them is a kind of love which could full filled each other. Mr. Tom is the lonely old man. He used to have his won family,but the death parted the away, while Willie has his mother but it seems like he's never get love from her. when they have to live together, something that they yearn for full fill their life appears to them. you will see how the power of love is. i recommnend this book for relieve your lonely.

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