As Mr Tom begins to observe Willie, whom Mr Tom calls William, he begins to realize that this is not an average child He seems fearful and withdrawn, without any joy or trust in people, which softens his heart and the love and kindness he extends to Willie end up changing both of their outlooks on the world This story deals with war, abuse and hate, endurance, poverty, the twisting of religion to justify the abuse of others, the hopelessness of children who have never known love, as well as the joy of giving love Kindness can be lifesaving Many thanks to my goodreads friend Linda, whose brief review prompted me to read this Such a beautiful, beautiful book It was recommended to me by the librarian at my middle school who hosted a group called the Bookmunchers where nerdy ones, like myself, could eat their lunches in the library every Wednesday Even through the horrors facing people in WWII London we are shown the true love that can happen from makeshift families like that made up of Mr Tom and Willie It s a book that changed my life as a child It made me feel safe to know that even when we re at the worst places in our lives that there are still possibilities This is a heartbreaking, gentle and terrifying, eye opening tale where characters were surprised by their own ability to change.
BEWARE SPOILERS AHEADI really hated this book I mean really hated Willie Beech is a complete Mary Sue, except for the fact he s a 9 year old boy.
He is way too perfect He is amazing at everything he attempts, despite his situation writing, maths, acting, socialising, art It s just too unbelievable His friends are incredibly boring, George and Ginny had no personality, Carrie was simply a token feminist and Zach was the only one who was written semi decently, but he was just so irritating I didn t shed a tear when he died Willie didn t react realistically to his abuse at all, I felt The child was physically, mentally and emotionally abused He was locked up with his dying sister for ages When rescued, he was emotionally traumatised in hospital, so far believable What really bothered me was the hospital scene The nurses were putting Willie to sleep in an attempt to not bother the other children and overcome his trauma Tom, who wasn t his legal guardian by the way, or a psychologist, insisted all he needed was fresh, country air I m not an expert myself, but I can assume fresh air is not the appropriate care for a child abused so much Tom also insisted on bringing a dog into the hospital A dog Into a hospital With sick patients Never mind the germs, Tom wants his dog It really annoyed me.
After his hospital stay, Willie made a miraculous recovery Within weeks, he was perfectly cured Unrealistic, considering the immense abuse he suffered When he discovered his mother killed herself, all he can think is why someone would kill themselves He had so much to live for, therefore everyone did That is really the last he thinks of his mother and sister for that matter I felt Zach s death was really just for the sake of it It was almost as if there was nothing else to do for the end if the novel A death in a book, especially that of a child, should be necessary and unavoidable His just seemed like a filler Overall, a really terrible book I wouldn t recommend it to anyone, unless as a guide for how not to write a novel.
When I read a book like this one, I try to imagine what my eight or ten year old self would have thought of it I m pretty sure she would have loved this and read it than once It is beautifully written, very sweet and uplifting, and inspires kindness and a view of the world as a place that will rescue you William Beech is an evacuee from London during WWII, and Tom Oakley is the reclusive elderly man who has the boy foisted upon him Will is a child who has been abused and bullied and his fear is evident almost immediately to Mr Tom, who is a very kind man at heart The reader witnesses the growing relationship that saves these two people, who don t always fit with the rest of the world, as they face both everyday life and some traumatic experiences together I believe this would make an excellent book to read with a young person They would learn a lot about life during WWII, you could talk about what it takes to make a family, how to overcome the difficulties life throws at you, and both of you could enjoy a good story and a fun read.
We had to read this in primary school, and it s been one of my most read, well loved books ever since It doesn t seem enough to say, Oh, it s a really touching story, because it s so much than that Willie is a young boy who s been abused by his mother all his life, so when he s evacuated to the countryside he s a quivering nervous wreck He expects to be beaten for everything he gets wrong The widower he stays with, Tom Oakley, is gruff and blunt and has shunned company ever since his wife died in childbirth forty years ago While they first seem utterly unsuited to each other, each turns out to be exactly right for the other.
This is a story about how two people can change It never fails to make me laugh, and cry, and feel lighter after I put it down.
I disagree with other reviewers who ve said it s not for children e.
g the abuse scenes are too shocking Since we read it in primary school our teacher obviously didn t have a problem with it There were no complaints from parents either That said, it s accessible to all ages It s one of those books that grows up with you, that you come back to again and again even when you re an adult The writing is so evocative of a wartime country village, and the characters all feel real and fully developed It s a wonderful tale of friendship and growth that everyone can enjoy.
The story of abused evacuee Willie Beech and gruff old loner Mr Tom may not be perfectly written and it might border on sappy and cliche at times but it is really a moving story Especially the first time it is read.
When re reading it this time I did think that maybe I would not give this book such a high rating if it were not for the connection of it being a book from my grandmother But so it is and so my rating remains.
Takes yer time, everythin as its own timeSo I have this theory that whenever I read a book where there is a gruff old man who is prickly on the outside but a big softie in the middle, I will love it.
This book is one of my all time favourites and I know I say that about every book, but I definitely mean it this time I first read it when I was about ten and I was in Year 5, learning about WW2 and the Blitz and evacuees Seeing as I had read all the books we had to read and I was allowed to go into the library and choose my own book And this one was the first book I chose.
Ms Magorian s writing feels so comfortable to me it s simple and gentle but never ventures into twee ness twee dom fine, it never becomes twee The setting is perfectly constructed, the friendships that are developed are honest and true and there is always this rich sense of innocent fun running through the story, which is perfectly balanced with the harrowing points of the tale But I m not talking about them because it just makes me too sad And let s not forget Sam who is the most endearing fictional dog since Manchee As I mentioned, I read this book when I was ten and now twelve years later this book was still beautiful It has aged extremely well I still laughed seriously, Zach and I need to be best friends and I still got teary at certain parts and I still got a warm feeling in my tummy at that epilogue.
That s right An epilogue that made me feel warm and fuzzy.
This is book is truly special to me Also, I just want to say something about the film adaptation.
I know, I know This is a book site Only heathens talk about film on this site.
But whatever, I don t care.
Normally I hate watching adaptations of my favourite books because they never ever EVER measure up And I think this is the only exception.
I think I ve seen this film at least ten times five of those viewings were on successive video days on the afternoon of every end of term, The Railway Children in the morning, of courseOh and whoever cast John Thaw as Mr Tom is a champion And ALSO, why haven t I gone and seen this play yet One day This review is part of my Poppies Prose feature You can find out here.
Tom Oakley has become a loner in his village He tends to be stern and quietly exists with a heavy heart A small, nervous boy called Willie Beech enters Tom s life and home as an evacuee from war torn London Willie soon stirs up Tom s set ways Over time, Willie flourishes with Tom s sensitive care and Tom finds new purpose in his life.
A novel full of adventures in the countryside with friends, the spirit of helping each other in times of trouble, cozy nights next to the fire with books and dialogue with humour and warmth.
Magorian writes in a touching and sympathetic way about love, trust, fear and respect There are some dark moments but she does not dwell on them She shows the difference we can make with love and support.