Pictures of Hollis Woods


Patricia Reilly Giff

Number of Pages: 


Minimum grade level: 


Hollis Woods is:

  • the place a baby was abandoned
  • the baby's name
  • an artist
  • a mountain of trouble
  • now a 12-year-old girl

who's been in so many foster homes, she can hardly remember them all. Hollis even ran away from the Regans, the one family that offered her a home. But Hollis now has Josie, an elderly artistic woman, who makes Hollis feel wanted and needed. Josie, however, is becoming more and more forgetful every day. Hollis is afraid someone will find out and take her away, and who knows what they'll do with Josie. Well, Hollis isn't about to let that happen.She'll run away again, only this time with Josie.

But as Hollis plans their escape, she thinks about her summer with the Regan family, a summer so special it almost hurts to remember it. Hollis can run away, but she can't escape her memories. What will happen when her memories catch up with her? 166 pages, 4th-7th grades

Discussion questions

Spoiler alert! Some of the questions contain key elements of the plot. Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!

  1. Why are the chapters of Hollis' memories titled First Picture, Second Picture, etc instead of Chapter One, etc?
  2. There is a saying "a picture is worth a thousand words."What do you think this means?Do you think this is true?
  3. Josie's cousin Beatrice says "And sometimes what you see is so deep in your head you're not even sure of what you're seeing.But when it's down there on paper, and you look at it, really look, you'll see the way things are." (p. 45) What do Hollis' pictures say about the truth?
  4. Have you ever looked at a painting and seen one thing, only to look again later and discover something different?
  5. Why is Hollis so determined to stay with Josie?
  6. Hollis makes a personal sacrifice of a sort to stay with Josie.In the past Hollis has skipped school.Now that she's living with Josie, Hollis goes to school so the mustard woman (aka Social Services woman) won't take her away.If you were in Hollis's place, do you think you would have done the same thing? Have you ever thought of going to school as a sacrifice?
  7. Hollis saw herself as someone who didn't deserve to be in a family.Why did she believe this?
  8. Did she change her mind?
  9. If so, what made Hollis change her mind?
  10. Why does Hollis think she is the reason Steven and the Old Man argue?
  11. Why does Hollis think the accident is her fault?
  12. Why does Steven secretly help Hollis and Josie when they're at the house in the country?Why doesn't Steven tell anyone that Hollis and Josie are there?
  13. Why is Hollis determined to be tough?
  14. How would Hollis define "home?"

If you liked this book, try

  • Ruby Holler by Sharon Creech
  • Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson
  • Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White

Created in part with funds granted by the Oregon State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.