This is a story about a boy named Willie, a scrawny, scared little thing who, during World War II, is evacuated from London to the English countryside. He is taken in a bit reluctantly by a gruff old man, a widower, Mr. Tom who soon realizes that Willie's timidity and fears are the result of abuse from his single mother. Mr. Tom applies his own innate kindness and common sense, and gradually brings Willie out of his shell.
Will, as he comes to be known, finds friends and affection all around him, as well as a talent for drawing that Tom nurtures. His total turnaround, though, is reversed when his mother requests that he come home. Tom obliges, and weeks pass with no word from Willie. It is too much for Tom, who feels something must be wrong. He charges into Blitz-bombed London to see what has happened to the little boy who won his heart.
This is a poignant and moving story that will surely put a lump in your throat, and a warm feeling in your heart. Unmissable.
Recommended by Betsy Schroeder