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May 21, 2008

Pictures of Hollis Woods

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Pictures of Hollis Woods

Author: Patricia Reilly Giff

Page Length: 166

Reading Level: 4th

Genre: Fiction

 

PLOT SUMMARY: Twelve year old Hollis Woods has spent her life flitting from one foster home to the next.  Her one ambition is to find “the perfect family”: people who will love her for who she is and never let her go.                         

 

Hollis seems to find just that, in the Regans.  The father, whom she calls Old Man, has a soft spot for Hollis, the mother is nurturing and kind, and Steven is both a brother and best friend.  Yet all of Hollis’s dreams are shattered when Steven is injured in a car accident, an accident in which Hollis shoulders the blame.  In her desperation, Hollis runs away from the Regans and moves in with a new foster mother.                                                                                                       

 

Beatrice is an elderly artist who is starting to show signs of dementia.  She provides Hollis with the emotional safe haven she needs.  Beatrice is patient, nonjudgmental, and fun-loving despite her age, yet it soon becomes obvious to Hollis that she must assume the role of care giver.  Beatrice forgets things easily and can hardly take care of herself.                                                                                           

 

Hollis realizes it is only a matter of time until the social worker removes her from Beatrice’s home, so she hatches a plan to run away with Beatrice and live out the winter in the Regan’s summer cabin.  After several days, Hollis realizes how ill-equipped she is to take care of Beatrice and eventually takes her back home.                                                                                                                                                

 

With this step toward maturity, Hollis finally stops running.  She realizes that she must face her problems in order to grow, that it is the only way she will ever obtain the family she so desires.                                                                                          

In the end, Hollis is welcomed back into the Regan’s arms.  Throughout the novel she has collected memories, like snapshots in her mind, of her worst and greatest moments.  Hollis ends the book with a final picture, one in which she is finally part of an authentic family.                                         

 

REVIEW: I love this book!  The characters are rich, and the story is beautifully woven.  I think the integration of Hollis’s “photographs” is creative.  It provides a strong visual connection to each stage of her life.  I also enjoy the way the story dances between the past and the present. This allows the reader to slowly discover and compare who Hollis was with who she has become.

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: imagery, metaphors, & similes.  Also, suspense drives this story, which makes it a good book to use when teaching predictions.

 

RELATED BOOKS: This reminded me of the book White Oleander, by Janet Fitch

 

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: White Oleander

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/results/view.asp?SubjectID=1&SubheadID=3&TopicID=57&GradeID=&PageURL=%2Flessonplans%2Fbookfairs%2Fcurrconnection%2Fhollis_woods.htm

 

http://www.crayola.com/educators/media/D-M_HollisWoods.pdf

 

http://bookwizard.scholastic.com/tbw/viewWorkDetail.do?workId=3323&

 

http://www.emints.org/ethemes/resources/S00002277.shtml

 

REVIEWED BY: Jennifer John

 

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