Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

April 28, 2011
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Hollis Woods:
Is the place where a baby was abandoned
Is the baby’s name
Is an artist
Is now a twelve-year-old girl

She’s been called a mountain of trouble by her many different foster families. She runs away from everyone, including the Regans, the one family who offers to fulfill her “W” picture. But then she goes to Josie, an elderly artist who lives with her cat, Henry, and helps run a movie theater. Hollis is determined to stay, even though Josie is quickly losing her memory. If the mustard lady finds out, she’ll be taken away for sure. Hollis has escaped the system before, but this time, Josie and Henry are coming with her to the one place she used to belong.

All through-out the story, you will see Hollis attempting to break away from her reputation and belong somewhere. And you will also discover, through her many drawings, the tragic accident that drove Hollis to run from the one family that Wanted, Wished to give her a home.

Pictures of Hollis Woods is the story of a tough, trouble-making girl who wishes for only one thing: to belong. She finds where she belongs with the Regans; but one mistake after another makes her believe she’s ruined her chances. She then finds where she belongs with Josie; but time and circumstances prove to her that she doesn’t belong there either. Hollis Woods is a story of wishes, of wants, of miracles and belief; it’s a story of never giving up no matter what life throws your way.

Hollis should be a role model to young girls everywhere. She’s tough, determined, strong-willed and lovable. She makes mistakes and learns from them, even if it is the hard way. She fights for what she wants and fights to belong somewhere. Hollis Woods is a true inspiration.

Pictures of Hollis Woods is a Newbery Honor book and it’s easy to see why. The writing format—switching between Hollis’ pictures and “The Time with Josie”—makes the story an easy read and connects two stories into one. The descriptions are clear and help the reader imagine the drawings and places and envision them in their mind; unfortunately it seems Ms. Giff has the same problem I do with transition scenes.

Several times through-out the book I found myself lost as to how the characters got from here to there. One moment they may be on the bank and the next they’re in the water with no obvious transition, making the reader return to earlier passages to find how they get from one place to the next. This breaks the train of thought and makes several passages irritating to read.

Excluding that, I found the entire story to be heart-warming and heart-breaking, with laughter and tears. Hollis Woods is an award-winning classic and will be for many years to come. Pick up a copy of Pictures of Hollis Woods for yourself and enter the magic of one girl’s fight to belong.





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