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Good Night, Mr. Tom Paperback – November 13, 1986

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Editorial Reviews


"Powerful." -- -- The Read-Aloud Handbookby Jim Trelease

About 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; English Language edition (November 13, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006440174X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064401746
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Good Night, Mr. Tom",is an excellent historical novel, by Michelle Magorian, set in World War II. This is a wonderful and touching story, about a small boy, named Willie Beech, who is evacuated from London to live in Little Weirwold with a complete stranger, Mr. Thomas Oakley. Tom is an old man, not used to children (he had a baby bay that died, but that was his only child), but he is kind to Willie. Willie is a deprived and abused child, and he is afraid of everything, because he wasn't let outside much in his earlier life. Slowly, Willie starts to think on his own, and he forgets the hate and despair of his past. Tom comes to love Willie like a son. Then a telegram comes, and Willie must return to his abusive mother in London, but weeks pass and Willie doesn't come back, so Mr. Tom goes to London to try to find the boy he has come to love so much. I would recommend this book to anyone young or old wo wants to read an excellent book. I hope all who read this book enjoy it as much as I did.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Tabitha VINE VOICE on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Timid, scrawny, Willie Beech is the abused child of a single mother. She sends him to Mr. Tom, who lives in the English countryside, because London is being bombed by the Nazis.

The two main adults in this story, the mother and Mr. Tom, seem very similar in the beginning. Yet, by the end, we see that they are completely different. What really hit home was this: hard times can make hard people, but one's true colors shine through when faced with others in need.

Mr. Tom's gruff exterior is only his exterior. He's really got a warm heart, which he opens up to Willie and shows him the love that's supposed to be in a family.

The mother's quiet, strict exterior masks her bitter, mean nature. She has no love for her children, and abuses them in subtle, neglectful ways.

We don't actually see the abuse, we see the end result...which, in my opinion, is far more powerful. I cried for Willie at the end of this book, and cheered Mr. Tom for doing everything he could to save this poor boy. When children are old enough to understand the results of abuse, every family should read this book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Plume45 on March 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Set in pre WW2 Britain this award-winning novel describes
the birth and growing pains of affection between two strangers, joined by the bizarre circumstances of war. Eight-year-old Willie Beech is one of many London kids sent to the country for safety in the late 30's. Recognizing their children as the country's most precious assets, London parents reluctantly
sacrifice the presence of their offspring by entrusting them to the care of country folk. Paired with Tom Oakley, the crusty recluse who lives next door to the church, the lad arrives terrified of everything: the friendly dog, asking questions,
even of smiling. Expecting nothing, he dares not hope to be recognized as a human being.
Not that he has had anything to smile abobut in his miserable years alone with a mentally- disturbed, abusive mother. Mr. Tom, as the boy calls him, quickly realizes that the boy is in desperate need of healing: for his tortured body, his twisted mind and his lonely young heart. As the dour man cares for the sick child (malnutrition, bedwetting, nightmares) he develops an unspoken but deep fondess for the unloved and friendless boy. Compassion for Willie brings out Tom's long-buried tenderness. It takes many months for Willie's true self to emerge: good country air, tender care of his battered body, cultivation of his active mind, and the boon of natural socialization with his peers. Gradually sloughing off his urban shell of fear, Willie makes his first friends, learns to read and write, and then discovers his natural talent as an artist.
But these evacuees are only temporary residents of Little Weirwold; we realize that eventual separation and future heartbreak are inevitable. What happens when their rightful parents reclaim these kids?
Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By twilliam on July 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
Eight year old Willie Beech knows that he is a bad boy, his mother tells him, and she only gives him the most gentle beatings. But now, his mom has sent him away to live in the countryside like all the children in London during World War 2 to protect them from the Nazi bombings.
At first Willie is terrified of Mr. Tom, but gradually he learns to trust him. Eventually it is safe to return to London, but is it safe for Willie to return to his mother? Tom reluctantly allows Willie to return, but when Willie dosen't answer his letters Mr. Tom goes to find Willie.
A bit of caution with this title, the episodes of child abuse and neglect are rather strong, and may not be suitable for all least the abuse is not described in action, we just see the end result.
A great book to examine the relationship of family, and love. This book is a great book to read-aloud to your children and have a discussion...but you may want to read it first to see if your child is ready for this one.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Biblibio VINE VOICE on December 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Good Night, Mr. Tom" puzzles me. When I read it objectively, looking only at the writing, it's not so impressive. The flow isn't particularly good and at times the book clunks along. The dialogue is engaging, though, and thoroughly real.

And the story itself is incredible. "Good Night, Mr. Tom" tells of a young London boy who is sent out to live in the country during World War II for his safety. There, away from an abusive home, Willie is able to grow and learn what it means to be loved.

With a series of remarkably realistic and fun characters, Willie (renamed Will in his new home with "Mr. Tom") moves and grows. Aspects of the book will make the reader cry (quite a few), aspects will chill you, but on the whole you will smile through your tears, because this book is just... special. It's got a very special feel to it, through tears and sad moments.

So while at times the story gets dull, it's an excellent book. I would recommend this to young teens, mostly because it deals with serious issues and might be a bit much for younger kids.

Definitely recommended.
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