Parents' Guide to

Good Night, Mr. Tom

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

A devastatingly powerful, intense tale of abuse and love.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 9 parent reviews

age 18+

Good Night, Mr. Tom

This introduces your child to child abuse and its specific forms. I think these topics, including suicide!, are too soon. Children do not need to bear the weight of the world any more or faster than it is hurled at them. I was shocked to read the mother taping the baby's mouth shut and locking it in a closet until it died. As shocking as it is for children to conceive that some mothers and fathers are not nice, the level of this abuse is not in my son's current reality so I do not understand why he would need to hear about this degree of abuse until he is an adult and can either do something about it or understand that others work on this issue full time. This type of content is shocking for young people and again, I feel, unnecessary at this stage of their development. The biggest fear children have is something happening to their mother or father; it does not need to be thrown in for shock value in every movie. Expect nightmares of, "What if this happened to me? What would I do?" As far as this book is concerned, my son doesn't need this information to relate to any friend who would never be undergoing such extreme treatment.

This title has:

Too much violence
age 12+

Book and film review

My son read this book aged 10 after it was recommended by his school teacher. Thankfully we read it together. Most of it would be fine for that age child, but be aware that there are very unpleasant scenes with William's mother. In the first part of the book it becomes apparent that she has been beating him and whipping him with a leather belt. It turns out that he wets the bed and shows fear of being hit for the slightest misdemeanours. In general though his new life in the country is full of happiness. Later though when William returns to London her cruelty and violence are very difficult to read about. She's immediately abusive and there aree scenes with her new baby being maltreated (tape over the baby's mouth so it can't cry. Finally she locks William in a cupboard with the baby and a bottle of milk and leaves them to go on holiday. When the authorities eventually break in many days later, the baby is dead and William is severely traumatised. Later we learn that the mother had killed herself. The film is less upsetting than the book as some scenes have been removed but sensitive children will find the mother scary and be upset at the violence hinted at.

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (9 ):
Kids say (13 ):

The story of Willie's recovery from severe abuse is given an unusually rich and vivid setting in this complex, multilayered novel. The book reads like a page-turner, though it is only in the central section, when Tom journeys to London to find Willie, that there is real action and suspense. But the rest is filled with vivid, tender portrayals and set pieces. This is a novel of terrible beauty, of the triumph of the spirit torn from the jaws of violence and tragedy.

Book Details

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