Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our Book Giveaway Winners (plural)! - and - Another Patricia Reilly Giff Gift

Congratulations to teacher Karen Brooks of East Bridgewater, MA and parent and children's book reviewer/blogger Pat Zietlow Miller of Fitchburg, WI, our TWO TeachingAuthors Book Giveaway Winners of Patricia Reilly Giff’s first two Zigzag Kids series titles – Number One Kid and Big Whopper (Wendy Lamb Books, Random House).
We appreciate the many readers who entered our Book Giveaway, sharing their identities, passions and interests.

And, in keeping with my fellow TeachingAuthors’ sharing of model texts this month, how could I not offer up yet another Patricia Reilly Giff gift, the first page of her Newbery Honor middle grade novel Pictures of Hollis Woods (Wendy Lamb Books, Random House).

"This picture has a dollop of peanut butter on one edge, a smear of grape jelly on the other, and an X across the whole thing. I cut it out of a magazine for homework when I was six years old. “Look for words that being with W,” my teacher, Mrs. Evans, had said.

She was the one who marked in the X, spoiling my picture. She pointed. “This is a picture of a family, Hollis. A mother, M, a father, F, a brother, B, a sister, S. They’re standing in front of their house, H. I don’t see one W word here.”
I opened my mouth to say: How about W for wish, or W for want, or W for “Wouldn’t it be loverly,” like the song the music teacher had taught us?
But Mrs. Evans was at the next table by that time, shushing me over her shoulder.

Here’s the novel’s front flap copy in case you’re unfamiliar with this beautifully-written story.
“Twelve-year-old Hollis has been in so many foster homes, she can hardly remember them all. Hollis Woods is a mountain of trouble. She even runs away from the Regans, the one family who offers her a home.
When Hollis is sent to Josie, an elderly artist who is quirky and affectionate, she wants to stay. But Josie is growing more forgetful every day. If Social Services finds out, they'll take Hollis away and move Josie into a home. Well, Hollis Woods won't let anyone separate them. She's escaped the system before; this time, she plans to take Josie with her.
Still, even as she plans her future with Josie, Hollis dreams of the past summer with the Regans, fixing each special moment of her days with them in pictures she’ll never forget.”

I often share this first page in craft workshops.
Talk about Show, Don’t Tell.
“Did you see what she did there?!” I ask my writers.
Giff lets us hear Hollis share a visual memory, and just like that, we’re inside Hollis’ heart. Just like that, we know her longing to belong to someone.
Giff doesn't tell us that Hollis actually speaks the words.  She simply lets Hollis tell us "she opens her mouth" to speak the words.
The teacher's act of shushing Hollis before she actually speaks the words? A telling detail that allows us to know all we need to know about how the world sees Hollis.
How could we NOT want to turn the page?

This first page represents the first of fourteen "pictures" - i.e. memories - Hollis paints with words, pictures she intersperses between titled chapters that move her story's plotline along. Each picture is further set apart by its italicized print. The First Picture is titled X. Giff artfully uses the pictures as bricks to build Hollis' story. Hollis refers throughout the story, in her first-person telling, to "the W picture with the mother, the father, the brother, and the sister."

Esther Hershenhorn

2 comments:

Nancye said...

I love Patricia Reilly Giff's work! She is so talented! I would love to win: "Pictures of Hollis Woods"

Thanks for the chance!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Pam said...

Hollis Woods is a "must read" for me. Wasn't this book made into a movie?????

Pam Matar