Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian

So this is the big one – my 12 year old daughter’s favourite book ever. As a huge Harry Potter fan this is a surprising change in genre. We were all so intrigued that most of my family have read it to try and see why she loves it so much.

She started to read it in primary school while studying WW2 and as it often the frustrating situation they didn’t finish it. She asked to take it home to finish, and then asked for a copy for Christmas so she had her own. She read it again, and I suspect it will keep coming out in times of need for familiarity. So what is it about this book?

William is sent to the country as an evacuee and taken in by Mister Tom, a man still living with the grief of the loss of his wife and baby. It’s sweet and affecting and in parts dark and upsetting, because William’s life has been traumatic and heartbreaking. Of course all the best books are about a journey and this story is exactly that. A journey for Tom and William, along with the other displaced evacuees and the community they become part of.

We wondered why she feels so strongly about the book. Perhaps it is the idea of living a free and exploratory life in a village like Little Weirwold. Certainly it is descriptive and seemingly idyllic at points. Perhaps it was the love between Tom and William who need each other so very much. I’d say this is the main reason I enjoyed it so much.

Once I finished the book I asked T why she loved it so much. She said “I don’t know, probably because he changes inside and out”. Pretty simple really I guess.

Then she said “You should read ‘Back Home’. It’s not a sequel, but it’s brilliant”.

And that right there is the main reason I read children’s literature. This is the first time so many of us have shared the reading of a single book we hadn’t read before – Grandad, Dad, Mum, daughter and soon sister too. Every single one of us will have had a different image in our head and we all enjoyed it in a different way. We can talk about what it meant to us and recommend what should come next. That’s pretty wonderful.


  1. This has always been a book I loved from when it was first published. Have a look at Robert Westall Kingdom by the sea – set in Northumberland!! xxx

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