‘Goodnight Mr Tom’ by Michelle Magorian

304p 1981 Puffin Bought

When Willie Beech is evacuated out of London during the Second World War, he is a scared, sickly, young boy who has always been mistreated by his god-fearing single mother. His mother wishes him to stay with a religious person, so Willie is placed with the widower Mr Tom Oakley, who takes care of the church in the village of Little Weirwold.

At first, Willie is nervous of old Mr Tom, who has a gruff personality, but the man slowly shows himself to be more soft-hearted then he is perceived, and he truly begins to care for Willie. At his school in London, Willie never learned to read, having been thought too stupid and was therefore ignored by his tutors. Mr Tom realises that Willie can’t read, and along with the teachers in the over-crowded village school, he helps Willie to learn. Willie slowly becomes friends with fellow evacuee Zach and also George and the twins: Carrie and Ginnie, from the village.

William, as he wants to be called, gradually begins to fit into life in Little Weirwold, and is treated kindly by everyone in the village. As he spends more time with Mr Tom and his new friends, he begins to develop a personality that had previously always been squashed by his mother. He discovers a talent for drawing, and enjoys learning to read and write. But when a letter from his mother mysteriously summons him back to a bombarded London, he leaves Mr Tom, who has become like a father to him, and returns to his old miserable life with his mother. Will things have changed for the better for William?

I first read Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian a few years ago when my friend lent it to me, raving about how great it was. I’ve since bought my own copy and have read it over ten times, I enjoy it that much.

The plot is amazing, suspenseful and heart-warming at the same time, and the characters are written wonderfully. I think the style of writing is great and the descriptions perfectly describe the emotions that the evacuees must’ve been having. I think Goodnight Mr Tom is an important book to read about the Second World War, and how it was dealt with in both the city and country.

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