How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!
The story is set during the Second World War, when Tom Oakley, an elderly and unsociable widower, finds himself with a young evacuee on his hands. Willie is a sickly, under-nourished and ill-treated London child, but we see him blossom in Tom’s care into a healthy, happy and talented boy. He makes friends for the first time, and is surprised to find that he soon forgets to be homesick, as there is always so much to do in the village. This tale traces the beautiful and profound relationship that develops between the man and the boy.
This book is one of my absolute favourites. I was quite late to reading this book, reading it at the age of 13 at school. I remember studying it in my English class, and my teacher would only read one chapter a lesson with us. It was utterly frustrating and looking back on it now, I wish I had had my own copy to read at home! I probably would have devoured it over a weekend.
Goodnight Mister Tom is suitable for younger children though. Although, I personally wouldn’t recommend it to under 9 year olds as I think some of the issues are incredibly dark. I know at my current school where I am a primary school teacher the Year 5/6 classes are studying it as part of their Evacuees topic.
Goodnight Mister Tom centres around a young boy called William, who is evacuated to the country to live with Tom Oakley. Tom is a widower and isolates himself from the rest of the community, so it is quite the shock to the system for him to have a young, dependent, unfortunately mistreated, sickly boy on his hands. However, Tom and Will develop a beautiful relationship. Mister Tom becomes a role model to young William, as he feeds him up, reads to him and gently teaches him how to read and write. He becomes the dad that William has never had. Will makes friends with the children in the village, but life isn’t rosy for him. His mum summons him back home and some dreadful things take place.
As I mentioned, some dreadful, dark things happen within this book, which is why I don’t think it’s a great book for under 9’s. It’s emotional, it’s heart-breaking and it’s true to the tough times experienced during the war, so I believe you need a certain amount of emotional maturity in order to tackle this book. I remember feeling moved by it when I was a teenager, and it still moves me now.
The writing in this book is so beautiful. It’s easy to read without becoming too twee which unfortunately some children’s books are that have been released in the ’80s. Goodnight Mister Tom is truly a children’s classic and I hope it continues to be read and enjoyed for many years to come.
For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.
Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (November):
The Class That Went Wild- Ruth Thomas