Patricia Reilly Giff

Pictures Of Hollis Woods

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Pictures Of Hollis Woods Summary

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Pictures of Hollis Woods is a 2002 young adult novel by Patricia Reilly Giff. The story focuses on a 12-year-old orphan girl named Hollis Woods, who was abandoned as a baby and has been shuttled from one foster home to another over the course of her life. Having become a troubled kid who’s prone to skipping school, she’s essentially given up on finding a real home, and even runs away from the Regan family, one of the best foster homes she’s had. However, when she is placed with elderly, offbeat artist Josie, she develops a kinship with the old woman and hatches a plan to ensure they aren’t separated – one that will ultimately return her to the Regan family. Pictures of Hollis Woods delves into the nature of the foster care system in the United States and its impact on the children trapped in it, and explores what truly makes a family. Critically acclaimed upon its release, Pictures of Hollis Woods is considered a modern-day classic that has become a mainstay of school libraries and middle school reading assignments. It won the prestigious Newbery Medal award in 2003, and was adapted into a 2007 TV film by Hallmark Hall of Fame for CBS.

As Pictures of Hollis Woods begins, 12-year-old Hollis Woods is being moved to yet another foster home. She was originally found abandoned in a park as a baby, with a piece of paper saying she was to be named after the park, Holliswoods. Hollis is placed with a kindly older lady named Josie, who provides one of the best foster homes Hollis has ever lived in. Josie is nice and cares for Hollis, but Hollis starts to notice that Josie is becoming forgetful and finding it harder to take care of Hollis. Hollis realizes that despite Josie’s best intentions, the state won’t find her to be a fit guardian for Hollis for long. She worries about being taken back to a former foster home, where the woman she calls “the stucco woman”mistreated and neglected her. Knowing that if the social workers discover Josie’s memory problems, they’ll take her out of the home, she convinces Josie that they need to leave town before the next inspection.

Hollis’story is occasionally interrupted by flashbacks to her former foster home with the Regan family. The parents, who Hollis calls Old Man and Izzy, were extremely kind and welcoming to Hollis, despite her standoffish nature. They encourage her gift for drawing, and Hollis becomes close friends with their son Steven. She lives with them in their summer home, Branches, in the mountains by a lake and woods that she and Steven like to explore. Hollis always dreamed of climbing the nearby mountain, but Steven warned her it was too dangerous. At the end of the summer, theRegans ask Hollis if they can adopt her, and she’s thrilled to agree. The next day she leaves to climb the mountain by herself to celebrate. On her way back home, she falls in the dark and hurts herself. Steven drives the family truck up the mountain to find her and rescues her, but on the way back, Steven crashes on the slippery mountain road. Although he only suffers minor injuries, Hollis is devastated, blaming herself for the crash. Not wanting to hurt the Regans any more, she refuses to be a part of their family. They’re heartbroken, but accept her decision and she’s removed from their home and moved to Josie’s.

Remembering her good times at Branches and knowing that the Regan family will be at their winter home, she decides to hide with Josie at the cabin. However, she struggles to care for both herself and Josie there, with little food and poor heating. Josie becomes more and more confused, forgetting why they’re there and talking about missing her cousin, Beatrice. Hollis attempts to forage for food in the woods, but is scared off when she sees what she thinks is a fisherman. After she and Josie celebrate a quiet Christmas at Branches, Hollis admits that she can’t continue to care for both of them. She calls Beatrice and asks her to take Josie in. Hollis is resigned to returning to foster care, but before she can be taken back, Steven shows up at the cabin. He was the fisherman Hollis saw in the woods, and he came to the cabin because he had a feeling she’d be there – just like he had a feeling she had gone to climb the mountain that day. He’s been secretly replenishing the food and gas in the house without being seen. He asks Hollis to be part of his family, and Hollis agrees. The epilogue shows Hollis as a member of the Regan family, now officially Hollis Regan. She lives with Old Man, Izzy, Steven, and her new baby sister, Christina. She’s finally home, with a family that loves and cares for her.

Patricia Reilly Giff is an American author and teacher. She is best known for her Polk Street School series, which contains over twenty books focusing on the second-grade class at the titular school. She has also written five books for older children and teens, and is a two-time Newbery Medal winner, for Pictures of Hollis Woods in 2003 and for World War II era coming of age story Lilys Crossing in 1998. Her book about the Irish Potato Famine, Nory Ryan’s Song was named the ALA Best Book for Young Adults in 2003. She is also well known for hosting writing workshops for children’s authors, which have been attended by other critically acclaimed authors in the field.