Giff, P. (2002). Pictures of Hollis Woods. New York: Scholastic Inc.
Let me begin by saying that this book is an excellent realistic fiction book that focuses on family. If you haven't read this book, it's an excellent one to read. When I googled this book to get a picture for my blog, I discovered that this book was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame Presentation featuring the well-known actress Sissy Spacek and was nominated for Golden Globe. The book is also a Newbery Honor Book. The recommended ages for this book are ages 10-12. I found this book appealing because of the vague title. I assumed that Hollis woods was a person, but I wanted to know for sure. I also wanted to know what types of pictures the title was referring to.
The main characters in this book are Hollis, Steven, Josie, Mr. and Mrs. Regan, and Beatrice. The main setting of the story is in the city of Branches, which is where the Regan family lives. Hollis Woods is a young foster child who has the tendency to run away from every home she lives in, even when she's happy. Hollis ends up meeting a family that she loves so much, but because of a certain circumstance, she ends up leaving them. During this time that she's away from this family, she lives with a dependent woman named Josie. Hollis and Josie become wonderful friends, but Hollis's heart truly belongs with Steven, Izzy, and John Regan. Hollis's main passion and hobby is her ability to draw beautiful pictures. Hollis escapes from her reality by drawing pictures. She is passionate about landscapes and the outdoors; therefore, her pictures depict a lot of outdoor landscapes.
The entire time I read this book, I kept wondering what was going to happen to her, and whether or not she would return to the Regan family. The book tells many of Hollis's experiences with Josie and her experiences with the Regan's. Giff uses tons of flashbacks in this story, which I feel adds to her experiences and passion toward the people that she loves. Giff uses italics to show us when Hollis is experiencing a flashback. In one chapter, you are reading about her experiences with Josie, and the next chapter, you are reading about Hollis at the Regan's home. The whole story is full of flashbacks.
Conflict is a very important idea in this book. The type of conflict seen is person-against-self. Hollis experiences many personal struggles in this book, and as the book progresses, you see her change for the better. She constantly fights with herself to figure out where she is going to go next, whether or not she wants to stay where she is, etc. The story is told in first person point of view where you see the constant use of the word "I." Hollis is a also the protagonist. While reading the story, you learn so much about her character. You learn of Hollis's weaknesses, her struggles, and her strengths.
The theme is also very important in this story. A possible theme for this story could be, "Family does not have to only include those who are blood related. Family is more than than. Relationships that are made and experiences that people face often bring them close together as a family." I cannot imagine what Hollis went through all the years that she did not have a family. My family is so important to me, and without them, I would feel lost. That's why you feel extremely happy for Hollis when she meets people that take her in as their own.. Hollis's encounters with the Regan family bring such great emotions and make you feel such joy for her.
BIG questions - Why does Hollis take such a long time to return to the Regan family? Being a foster child would be such a challenging and emotional thing. Would you "run" the way that Hollis does? The book never said why Josie was so dependent on people. Why do you think Josie needed Hollis the way that Beatrice said she did?