Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Have you ever stopped and thought about how important a book title can be?  Pictures of Hollis Woods is the perfect title for this book.  Hollis loves to draw pictures but at the same time she has pictures in her mind of her ideal family and pictures of people she has met, pictures of experiences from the past and imaginings of how these same people might interpret her present circumstances.

Hollis has been abandoned as a tiny baby :
"My name ...,' I began ... 'Hollis Woods is a real place.' I shrugged a little.'Holliswood,' I said. "One word, I think.'  When the old man spoke, I jumped.  'It's where they found you, as a baby?' 'An hour old,' I said in an I-don't-care voice.'No blanket. On a corner. Somewhere.' Didn't a baby deserve a blanket? 'And just a scrap of paper: CALL HER HOLLIS WOODS."

Hollis has lived with a succession of foster families until she comes to live with the Regans.  They seem perfect but then something goes dreadfully wrong and Hollis runs away.  Her next foster home is with Josie - a retired art teacher.  Josie and Hollis form a special bond but Hollis can't stop thinking about Steven and his mum and dad - the true family she left behind.  Then Josie starts to lose her memory and the welfare lady becomes suspicious so it is time to run again.  Taking Josie with her, Hollis seeks refuge in the Regans summer house. She is sure no one with think to look for them there.

Pictures of Hollis Woods is not a new book (2002) but our copy is so worn out I thought I would read it again before purchasing a new edition.  Here are some ideas you could use with students for responding to this book.  I have discovered a television movie was made of this book in 2007. I wonder what it was like?  Here are a set of book talks you could use to promote this terrific book and some teaching ideas.  If you enjoy a sensitive story with a wonderful main character I highly recommend this book.  After reading Pictures of Hollis Woods make sure you look for Dicey's Song.

This touching story will leave readers pleasantly drained, satisfied with the happy ending, and eager for more about Hollis’s future.

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