Pictures of Hollis Woods

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Pictures of Hollis Woods
Pictures of Hollis Woods cover.jpg
Author Patricia Reilly Giff
Country United States
Language English
Genre Realistic fiction
Publisher Random House Children's Books
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 176
ISBN 9780440415787

Pictures of Hollis Woods is a 2002 young adult novel by Patricia Reilly Giff. The novel received a Newbery Honor Award in 2003. It was adapted for television in 2007.

Plot Summary[edit]

Pictures of Hollis Woods is the story of a 12-year-old orphan girl(Hollis Woods) who has been moved to countless families and has the amazing talent to draw things just as they are. Her whole life unfolds through the pictures she draws. The one picture that gets mentioned a lot throughout the story is the drawing of the W she made in her first grade class. The W symbolizes her Wish, her Want for a family. The story tends to go back and forth from her past family (the Regans) to her present. The Regans fit her wish and want in a family. Holly is known to be "a mountain of trouble" to her social agency. She doesn't like to listen and is always skipping school. She is always making fake sick notes to be excused from her classes. She then is placed with Josie who is an elderly retired art teacher, who ends up having Alzheimer's disease. Josie lives with her cat Henry and she builds sculptures out of trees and she promises Holly that she will make a sculpture of her. Holly actually feels needed by Josie when she ends up developing Alzheimer's disease. Since Josie is becoming forgetful because of the disease the social agency sees her as unfit to keep Holly so the "mustard woman" (in charge of finding her a home) wants to move Holly to another family again. This time however, Holly refuses to leave Josie since she feels Josie needs her. It is clear that Holly was taught how to love thanks to Josie. She and Josie run away because Holly wants to stay with Josie. She ends up returning to Branches, which is the summer home of the last family she ran away from (the Regans). The Regans were in their winter home so would never know Josie and Holly were there. Holly throughout the story still however longs to be with them again and misses them very much.

The Regans were a great family for her and she loved them all very much. Holly left the family because of her fear of her attachment and out of guilt. The Regans have a son named Steven who developed a close bond with Holly. One night while the Old man (Steven's father) and Izzy (Steven's mother) were out and Steven was fishing, Holly decided to leave the house and go up the mountain by the house. She ended up hurting herself because she got too close to the edge and rolled down the mountain a few feet. She needed Steven to find her to drive her down because of her injuries from the fall. He had to drive all the way up the mountain to get her and while he was on his way back down the mountain as careful as he was the truck ended up sliding because of the mud, which caused the truck to tip over to the side. The truck was sliding all the way down the mountain and it crashed. She went to go get help, and Old man and Izzy got her and Steven to the hospital. Holly had stitches on her head from the crash. When she was brought back home by Old man and Izzy, the guilt started to sink in. She kept thinking if she had not gone up the mountain then Steven would not have crashed the car. The guilt made her pack up her bags and run away once again from another family even though she loved them.

While she is in Branches with Josie trying to hide from the "mustard woman", Holly goes fishing. In the woods, she runs into someone who she cannot see very well. She assumes it is a fisherman and runs away from him. Josie and Holly celebrate Christmas together in the Regans' summer house. Holly gives her a drawing of Josie, Henry, and Beatrice (Josie's sister) by the popcorn machine in the theater. Josie gives her the wooden self sculpture she promised she would make for Holly. She also gave Holly a tin of candies that she found in the house which were Izzy's. Josie said the candies were from Santa Claus. Holly soon begins to think Steven is in the area because she keeps seeing Steven's sweater in the house move and Josie claims she heard a snowmobile. She calls Beatrice to come and live with Josie so she can take care of her. Beatrice agrees to live with Josie. She hears the snowmobile and then she sees Steven and when she sees him she says to him "Steven Regan. Happy Birthday." She goes back to living once again with the Regans and this time she has a baby sister in the family named Christina.


Hollis Woods - A 12-year-old orphan girl who keeps moving from family to family and has a talent to draw which moves through the story with her adventures.

The Regans - Old man, Izzy, and Steven. They want Holly to be a part of her family even though she pushed them away

Josie - An elderly retired art teacher who adores Holly. She develops Alzheimer's disease.

Beatrice - Josie's sister

Henry - Josie's cat

Stucco Woman - A woman Holly used to live with. She describes Holly as a mountain of trouble,

Mustard Woman - A social worker responsible for finding Holly a family

Critical reception[edit]

Critics praised Giff's work in this book.

According to the School Library Journal, "Giff masterfully weaves these two strands together in a surprising and satisfying ending. Strong characterization and a solid sense of place are the strengths of this heartfelt story that will appeal to fans of Sharon Creech's Ruby Holler (2002), Katherine Paterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978, both Harper Collins), and Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Gib Rides Home (Delacorte, 1998)".[1]

Kirkus reviews states that Giff "expertly portrays the intense, heartfelt emotions Hollis experiences and gives her talent and spunk; she is in no way pathetic, despite her perennial foster-childhood. The secondary characters are also completely drawn and are likable without being too good to be true. This touching story will leave readers pleasantly drained, satisfied with the happy ending, and eager for more about Hollis's future".[2]

Publishers Weekly also stated that "Giff intersperses tender scenes demonstrating Hollis's growing affection for Josie with memories of the Regans, whose images Hollis preserves in her sketchbook".[3]

The Horn Book Magazine has reviewed the book as "a remarkably well-observed novel, weaving gracefully back and forth in time and replete with humor derived primarily from Hollis's candor and tough talk. The tracing of Hollis's relationship with Josie and her foster brother, Steven Regan, is especially well drawn".[4]

Booklist has also described the novel positively by stating that "Veteran author Giff has a sure hand with language, and the narrative is taut and absorbing".[5]


Newbery Medal Honor Book in 2003.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gaffney, Jean, et al. "Pictures Of Hollis Woods." School Library Journal 48.9 (2002): 225. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
  2. ^ Wendy, Sept. 10th, 2002. "Pictures of Hollis Woods." Kirkus Reviews. Web. 25 Nov 2014
  3. ^ Davis,Hope. "Pictures of Hollis Woods." Publishers Weekly. Web. 25 Nov 2014
  4. ^ Beram, Nell. "Pictures Of Hollis Woods (Book Review) (Undetermined)." Horn Book Magazine 79.1 (2003): 72-73. Book Review Digest Plus (H.W. Wilson). Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
  5. ^ DeCandido, GraceAnne A. "Pictures Of Hollis Woods." Booklist 99.4 (2002): 404. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.