This is a must read and also must purchase/watch DVD (starring John Thaw as Mr. Tom).
When young Willie Beech is evacuated to the country when the war starts he finds he is to be billeted with the rather curmudgeonly Widower, Mr. Tom Oakley. However, an odd and rather touching relationship develops between them and soon the frightened, beaten and malnourished little boy starts to come out of his shell and make friends with Mr. Tom and the children in the village.
The author paints an idyllic picture of country life before the war and just after it started. Everything is decribed in great detail right from the clothes the children wore, to the trees, the house in which Willie lives with Tom and to the school he attends. No description of anything is stilted and you actually start to feel that you are living in the cottage with Mr. Tom and Willie or Will as he prefers to be called. Mr. Tom as he is known by to Will, quickly finds out the little boy likes drawing and starts to encourage him by buying him some painting materials. Poor Will is overcome with emotion as it seems that no-one has ever been nice to him before.
This is a thoroughly enjoyable book and it made me wish for times gone by when you could run around outside on your own for hours on end without the worry of being molested. Every villager would look out for any child at any given time.
The book also made me cry in two places but to give away what places would spoil the pleasure for other readers. There is every emotion in this book from sadness to happiness to resignation, to fear and all extremely well written. Suffice to say, this has to be a classic and will be enjoyed by generations of children and adults alike.