Pictures of Hollis Woods

Pictures of Hollis Woods
Author Patricia Reilly Giff
Illustrator no pictures
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

Pictures of Hollis Woods is the story of an 11[1]-year-old orphan girl (Hollis Woods) who has been moved to countless foster families unfolds through the pictures she draws. The one picture to another family again. This time however, Hollis refuses to leave Josie since she feels Josie needs her. She and Josie run away because Hollis 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 Hollis were there. Hollis throughout the story still however longs to be with them again and misses them very much.

The Regans were an amazing family for her and she loved them all very much. Hollis(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. The Old man and Izzy got her and Steven to the hospital. Hollis had stitches on her head from the car 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 and they loved her.

While she is in Branches with Josie trying to hide from the "mustard woman", Hollis 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 Hollis celebrate Christmas together in the Regans' summer house. Hollis gives her a drawing of Josie, Henry, and Beatrice (Josie's cousin) by the popcorn machine in the theater. Josie gives her the wooden self sculpture she promised she would make for Hollis. She also gave Hollis a tin of candies that she found in the house which were Izzy's. Josie said the candies were from Santa Claus. Hollis 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 Josie. 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." Then, she goes back to living once again with the Regans and this time she has a baby sister in the family named Christina. She's content with her new and forever family.


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 Hollis to be a part of her family even though she pushes them away.

Josie - An elderly retired art teacher who adores Hollis. She develops Alzheimer's disease and Hollis must learn to be responsible and to protect her.

Beatrice - Josie's cousin who she is very close to. She is also a retired art teacher like Josie and now owns a movie theater.

Henry - Josie's irritable cat.

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

Mustard Woman - A social worker responsible for finding Hollis a family.

Critical reception

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)".[2]

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".[3]

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".[4]

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".[5]

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".[6]


Newbery Medal Honor Book in 2003.

See also


  1. "Twelve," I said, bumping it up almost a year, "and tough." p. 15
  2. Gaffney, Jean, et al. "Pictures Of Hollis Woods." School Library Journal 48.9 (2002): 225. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
  3. Wendy, Sept. 10, 2002. "Pictures of Hollis Woods." Kirkus Reviews. Web. 25 Nov 2014
  4. Davis,Hope. "Pictures of Hollis Woods." Publishers Weekly. Web. 25 Nov 2014
  5. 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.
  6. DeCandido, GraceAnne A. "Pictures Of Hollis Woods." Booklist 99.4 (2002): 404. Academic Search Complete. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
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