Reviews for Pictures of Hollis Woods
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 October 2002
Gr. 5-7. She was named for the place where she was found as an abandoned baby. Twelve-year-old Hollis Woods has been through many foster homes--and she runs away, every time. In her latest placement, with an artist named Josie, the tightly wound Hollis begins to relax ever so slightly. In the warmth of Josie's creativity, Hollis' own drawings, always her voice and the way she sees best, proliferate. In flashback and memory, we see Hollis' last foster family, what they meant to her, and why she ran. But Josie is slowly slipping into dementia, and Hollis knows that she'll be taken away from her if Josie is found out. How she saves Josie and herself is the kernel of this moving story about families, longing, and belonging. Veteran author Giff has a sure hand with language, and the narrative is taut and absorbing. ((Reviewed October 15, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
Twelve-year-old foster child Hollis Woods, troublesome and artistic, has run away from the family she adores. The mystery surrounding her sudden departure--why would she leave a home where she is, at last, happy and wanted?--propels this story about the importance of self-expression and of belonging. Despite some heavy-handed symbolism, this is a remarkably well-observed novel, weaving gracefully back and forth in time. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #1
As the novel opens, we learn that twelve-year-old foster child Hollis Woods, troublesome and artistically gifted, has run away from the Regans, a family she adores. The mystery surrounding her sudden departure-why would she leave a home where she is, at long last, happy and wanted?-propels this story about the importance of self-expression and of belonging. Hollis is next placed with retired art teacher Josie, who recognizes her creative talent and who, because of her increasing lapses of memory, gives Hollis her first taste of what it feels like to be needed. By wintertime, HollisÆs social worker, newly aware of JosieÆs failing faculties, plans to remove Hollis from JosieÆs care, so the two run away to the safety and solitude of the RegansÆ summer home. There, marooned in heavy snow, they receive an unexpected Christmas visitor who reunites Hollis with the family she has longed for. Though suffering from some heavy-handed symbolism and from HollisÆs ultimately tiresome self-reflection, this is a remarkably well-observed novel, weaving gracefully back and forth in time and replete with humor derived primarily from HollisÆs candor and tough talk (ôHow was school?ö ôBurned down.ö ôWhat did you have for lunch?ö ôHorse meatö). The tracing of HollisÆs relationship with Josie and with her foster brother, Steven Regan, is especially well drawn. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2002 August #1
Twelve-year-old Hollis Woods, abandoned as a one-hour-old baby, was named after the part of Queens where she was found with a note pinned on her blanket: "Call her Hollis Woods." She has lived with a progression of foster families since then, running away whenever she feels the urge. Now she has landed at the home of Josie Cahill, a retired art teacher who reaches Hollis in new ways: by helping her develop her artistic talent. In addition, for the first time a foster parent needs Hollis more than Hollis needs her; Josie is starting to forget things, and Hollis vows to make sure that no one will take her away and put Josie in a retirement home. From the beginning, it's clear through Hollis's recollections that something awful happened at her previous foster home, something for which she feels responsible. The Regans had a son Hollis's age and were anxious to adopt her; while Hollis reciprocated their affection and has longed for a family her whole life, she fears she exacerbated existing family tensions and ran away. It's a relief when what happened is finally revealed; the accident for which Hollis blames herself was unfortunate, but not fatal or unforgivable. Giff (All the Way Home, 2001, etc.) 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. (Fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 July #3
Giff (Lily s Crossing; All the Way Home) again introduces a carefully delineated and sympathetic heroine in this quiet contemporary novel. Artistically talented Hollis Woods, age 12, has made a habit of running away from foster homes, but she s found a place on Long Island where she wants to stay for a while. She immediately bonds with Josie, her new guardian, who is a slightly eccentric, retired art teacher. Yet Hollis is far from content. She worries about Josie s increasing forgetfulness, and she sorely misses her last foster family, the Regans, whom she left under tense circumstances that are only gradually made clear. Giff intersperses tender scenes demonstrating Hollis s growing affection for Josie with memories of the Regans, whose images Hollis preserves in her sketchbook. Pictures of motherly Izzy Regan, her architect husband and their mischievous yet compassionate son, Steven, sensitively express the young artist s conception of a perfect family. As readers become intimately acquainted with Hollis, they will come to understand her fears, regrets and longings, and will root for her as she pursues her dream of finding a home where she belongs. Ages 8-13. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2002 September
Gr 4-7-Abandoned at birth, Hollis Woods has lived in about a half dozen homes and has always wished for a family. A foster caretaker describes her as "a mountain of trouble." When Josie Cahill, a retired art teacher, takes the 12-year-old into her home on Long Island, NY, the two bond almost immediately. Hollis draws pictures with colored pencils and Josie carves branches into people. However, it soon becomes clear that Josie has trouble remembering things, and Hollis becomes the caregiver. When she stops attending school, a social worker comes by to investigate. Flashbacks slowly illuminate Hollis's life with one family who had hoped to adopt her and why this didn't happen. 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 HarperCollins), and Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Gib Rides Home (Delacorte, 1998).-Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.