Booktalk: Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Pictures of Hollis Woods cover

Staying with books for the younger set for another week, here is a quietly beautiful book by prolific children’s author Patricia Reilly Giff.  While many kids probably know her work because of her popular series like Polk Street School and Zigzag Kids, Pictures of Hollis Woods is a standalone story that will have a deep impact on thoughtful readers.

While some booktalks are easy to write because there’s an obvious cliffhanger to use as a hook, booktalking more subtle books can be both more challenging and more rewarding.  In this booktalk I’m spending more time talking about the characters rather than what is going to happen to them (because it’s pretty obvious what will happen to them, but the point of reading the book is watching how their relationship develops).


Hollis Woods is about to move into her fourth home … no, make that her fifth.  They all start to look the same after a while.  Hollis never stays in one place for too long; she always runs away eventually.  Even from the nice families, like the Regans.  Hollis always does something wrong, and always ends up running away.  Ever since she was found in the woods with a note saying “name her Hollis Woods,” she’s never had a real home.

But this time, things look like they might be different.  She’s about to move in with an old lady named Josie, a retired art teacher who wears rings on eight of her fingers, who carves sculptures out of tree branches, and who owns an irritable old cat named Henry.

Josie and Hollis could be a good match.

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