Sort It Out with Senses!
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
by Patricia Reilly Giff
About the Book
No wonder she hasnt been accepted. Shes a mountain of trouble, that Hollis Woods.
Thats how the girls social worker describes 12-year-old Hollis. In every home in which shes been placed, Hollis runs away. To make matters worse, she rarely goes to school and kids never want to play with her.
But Hollis is an exceptional artist, and two families-not one-want her as part of their family. Josie, an eccentric, elderly former art teacher loves the girl, yet Josies forgetfulness is a disturbing sign. The Regan family, with whom Hollis once lived, loves her, too. But an accident last summer caused Hollis to run away from them.
This warm-hearted story ends happily as Hollis finds a loving home-a real family-with the Regans. And Hollis gets to visit Josie once a month.
Set the Stage
Get students ready to read with this introduction:
- Hollis Woods is the name of a girl who has lived in several foster homes. What is a foster home? What might Hollis want most of all?
- Hollis has a special talent as an illustrator. Another character describes the girls drawings as a language Hollis speaks on paper. What do you think is meant by that?
- Why do you think the title, Pictures of Hollis Woods, might be appropriate for the story?
Discuss this moving book with these questions:
- What does Hollis want most of all throughout the story? Does she get it by the end of the book?
- Do you think that Josie was a good foster parent to Hollis? What makes you say that?
- What was the misunderstanding with the Regans that made Hollis leave the family after the truck accident?
- There are three kinds of conflict a character in a story can experience. These are (1) character against self, (2) character against another character, and (3) character against nature. Find an example of one of these conflicts in the story and read it aloud to a classmate. (For example, an example of conflict (2) was between Hollis and the teacher who misunderstood the girls picture representing the letter W.)
- Name two important gifts that Hollis received in the story. One should be tangible (something that can be seen or touched), the other intangible (cannot be touched, but has value).
- What joys and problems might Hollis face if the story were to continue?
This reproducible will check students comprehension of the story and sharpen their senses.
To extend students understanding of the story, try these:
- Artists All: Bring in portraits from magazines for the class to discuss. Talk about what makes a good portrait. Then have students use colored pencils or charcoal to draw a portrait of a classmate. Hang the portraits on a bulletin board for all to admire.
- Gallery of Sculptures: Using clay, have each student create a bust of someone important in his or her life. Place the finished pieces in the art center with a label indicating the artists name. Discuss the strengths of each piece.
- Happy Holiday: Draw an imaginary gift that Hollis would most appreciate. (Example: a photo of Hollis Regan with her family). Explain why Hollis would enjoy the present.
- Moving Image: Imagine that Pictures of Hollis Woods is being made into a movie. Create a poster with text and art that would motivate movie-goers to see the film.
- Show, Dont Tell: Author Patricia Reilly Giff often lets her readers know what Hollis is feeling by showing, rather than telling. That is, the author lets the reader figure it out through the dialogue or actions, rather than stating Hollis feeling directly. Read aloud a passage in the book that illustrates this and discuss it with a classmate.
- We Want More!: Do students like books by popular author Patricia Reilly Giff? If so, try: Lilys Crossing or Nory Ryans Song.