Pictures of Hollis Woods

by Patricia Reilly Giff

When she was six, Hollis Woods’s teacher asked her class to draw a picture... read more

When she was six, Hollis Woods’s teacher asked her class to draw a picture of something that began with the letter “W.” Orphaned Hollis drew her ideal family: a mother, a father, and two children. “I don’t see one 'W’ word here,” said her teacher. But Hollis had been thinking of “wish,” and “want” and “Wouldn’t it be lovely.” Now a teenager, Hollis has become an expert at running away from foster homes. Her latest placement is with Josie, a retired art teacher, and Hollis, an artist herself, senses kinship with this distinctive woman. But Hollis can’t forget about the family with whom she spent the previous summer. The Old Man, Izzy and Steven were Hollis’s childhood picture come to life, and she, a daughter, made it complete. But things had fallen apart, as they always did, and Hollis ran again. In a story that alternates between Hollis’s first-person, present-day voice, and her descriptions of drawings she made throughout that idyllic summer, Hollis mourns what she has lost even as she is fiercely determined to hang on to what she now has: the love of an aging woman whose memory is beginning to fail. Patricia Reilly Giff’s novel about a girl learning what it means to be part of a family is lyrically written and movingly told, grounded in the honest voice of a perceptive young woman who can beautifully capture the people around her in her drawings, but who doesn’t always see the more fundamental truths about love and family that are revealed in each and every picture she creates. (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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