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Authors: Michelle Magorian

Goodnight Mister Tom

BOOK: Goodnight Mister Tom
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To my father

Some reviews of

Goodnight Mister Tom

‘A brilliant story of how love defeats fear’


‘Everyone’s idea of a smash-hit first novel: full-blown characters to love and hate, moments of grief and joy, and a marvellous story that knows just how to grab the emotions’ –

‘An excellent, heart-warming, thought-provoking story’ –
Books for Keeps

‘The brilliant story of an evacuee with the worst mother in the whole of children’s literature. A powerful read’ –
Sunday Telegraph

‘This book can make you smile and laugh, but it may also bring tears to your eyes and leave you with a bitter-sweet feeling’ –
Sunday Times

Books by Michelle Magorian

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Goodnight Mister Tom


Michelle Magorian’s first ambition was to be an actress, and after three years’ study at the Bruford College of Speech and Drama, she went to mime school in Paris. All this time she had been secretly scribbling stories, and in her mid-twenties she became interested in children’s books and decided to write one herself. The result was
Goodnight Mister Tom
, a winner of the Guardian Award and the International Reading Association Award, which she has also adapted as a musical. Since then she has published several novels, poetry and short-story collections and picture books.

Michelle lives in Petersfield, where she continues with both her acting and writing careers.




Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published by Kestrel Books 1981

Published in Puffin Books 1983

Published in Puffin Modern Classics 1996, 2003

This edition reissued 2010

Text copyright © Michelle Magorian, 1981

Introduction copyright © Julia Eccleshare, 2003

All rights reserved

The moral right of the author has been asserted

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN: 978-0-141-96452-2


by Julia Eccleshare

Puffin Modern Classics series editor

Evacuated from the bombs in London, Willie Beech arrives in the country alone and afraid. Not surprising given the times, but Willie’s terrors are caused by something much deeper than the fear of bombing: Why can’t he sleep in a bed? And why does the dog scare him so much? Watching Willie learn to trust, and even to love, as his terrible past is unravelled and laid to rest is an emotional rollercoaster. But
Goodnight Mister Tom
is not just the story of Willie. It is also the story of gnarled old Tom Oakley, who never wanted to have anything to do with a child – he is only doing his duty by taking in an evacuee – but who soon fi nds himself not only caring for the physical needs of young Willie but also filling in the gaps in his life, from education to love. Like Willie, Tom’s capacity for love swells as the relationship between the two of them develops, and both of them begin to reach out to others in their small community.

Goodnight Mister Tom
, there are moments of such sadness that it is almost too distressing to go on. There are few secrets as terrible as the one Tom uncovers when he discovers the truth of Willie’s real home and, in a different way, the explanation for Tom’s gruff detachment from society is as heartrending. But these are offset by the delights of Willie’s new experiences of the country and the people in it and, above all, by the underlying joy of Willie and Tom’s blossoming life together.

It is impossible not to be touched by this story, set against the wider picture of the effect of the Second World War on the ordinary people of Britain.

Goodnight Mister Tom
was Michelle Magorian’s first novel. It won the Guardian Children’s Book prize and has been adapted into a TV drama starring the late John Thaw.

1 Meeting
2 Little Weirwold
3 Saturday Morning
4 Equipped
5 ‘Chamberlain Announces’
6 Zach
7 An Encounter over Blackberries
8 School
9 Birthday Boy
10 The Case
11 Friday
12 The Show Must Go On
13 Carol Singing
14 New Beginnings
15 Home
16 The Search
17 Rescue
18 ‘Recovery’
19 The Sea, the Sea, the Sea!
20 Spooky Cott.
21 Back to School
22 Grieving
23 Postscript

‘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 which stood at the end of the graveyard were 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. One tiny dark-haired girl in the front was hanging firmly on to a new teddy-bear.

The woman touched the boy at her side and pushed him 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, pale with limp sandy hair and dull grey 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 onto his brown carrier bag. Through the half-open door he could see a large black cooking range 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.’

Willie did so and 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 on to the graveyard, the other to a little garden at the side. The large black range 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 in a faded crimson, green and brown rug. Willie glanced at the armchair by the range and the objects that lay on top of the small wooden table beside it; a pipe, a book and a baccy jar.

BOOK: Goodnight Mister Tom
11.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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