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The Great Gilly Hopkins

The Great Gilly Hopkins

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The Great Gilly Hopkins

4/5 (58 ratings)
162 pages
2 hours
Oct 6, 2009


The timeless Newbery Honor Book from bestselling author Katherine Paterson about a wisecracking, ornery, completely unforgettable young heroine. 

Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she's hated them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that's the way she likes it. So when she's sent to live with the Trotters—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it's only a temporary problem.

Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She's determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she's devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. Unfortunately, the plan doesn't work out quite as she hoped it would...

This classic middle grade novel has moved generations of readers and inspired a major motion picture starring Octavia Spencer, Kathy Bates, Glenn Close, and Danny Glover. The acclaim for the book included the National Book Award, the Christopher Award, and the Jane Addams Award.

The joys and struggles of adoption, told in a real and accessible way, are beautifully expressed in Katherine Paterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins. Don't miss it!

Oct 6, 2009

About the author

Katherine Paterson is one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved authors. Among her many awards are two Newberys and two National Book Awards, and she was recently named a "Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. She has been published in more than 22 languages in a variety of formats, from picture books to historical novels.

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The Great Gilly Hopkins - Katherine Paterson


"Gilly, said Miss Ellis with a shake of her long blonde hair toward the passenger in the back seat. I need to feel that you are willing to make some effort."

Galadriel Hopkins shifted her bubble gum to the front of her mouth and began to blow gently. She blew until she could barely see the shape of the social worker’s head through the pink bubble.

This will be your third home in less than three years. Miss Ellis swept her golden head left to right and then began to turn the wheel in a cautious maneuver to the left. I would be the last person to say that it was all your fault. The Dixons’ move to Florida, for example. Just one of those unfortunate things. And Mrs. Richmond having to go into the hospital—it seemed to Gilly that there was a long, thoughtful pause before the caseworker went on—for her nerves.


Miss Ellis flinched and glanced in the rear-view mirror but continued to talk in her calm, professional voice while Gilly picked at the bits of gum stuck in her straggly bangs and on her cheeks and chin. "We should have been more alert to her condition before placing any foster child there. I should have been more alert. Cripes, thought Gilly. The woman was getting sincere. What a pain. I’m not trying to blame you, Gilly. It’s just that I need, we all need, your cooperation if any kind of arrangement is to work out. Another pause. I can’t imagine you enjoy all this moving around. The blue eyes in the mirror were checking out Gilly’s response. Now this new foster mother is very different from Mrs. Nevins." Gilly calmly pinched a blob of gum off the end of her nose. There was no use trying to get the gum out of her hair. She sat back and tried to chew the bit she had managed to salvage. It stuck to her teeth in a thin layer. She fished another ball of gum from her jeans pocket and scraped the lint off with her thumbnail before elaborately popping it into her mouth.

Will you do me a favor, Gilly? Try to get off on the right foot?

Gilly had a vision of herself sailing around the living room of the foster home on her right foot like an ice skater. With her uplifted left foot she was shoving the next foster mother square in the mouth. She smacked her new supply of gum in satisfaction.

Do me another favor, will you? Get rid of that bubble gum before we get there?

Gilly obligingly took the gum out of her mouth while Miss Ellis’s eyes were still in the mirror. Then when the social worker turned her attention back to the traffic, Gilly carefully spread the gum under the handle of the left-hand door as a sticky surprise for the next person who might try to open it.

Two traffic lights farther on Miss Ellis handed back a towelette. Here, she said, see what you can do about that guck on your face before we get there.

Gilly swiped the little wet paper across her mouth and dropped it on the floor.

Gilly— Miss Ellis sighed and shifted her fancy on-the-floor gears. Gilly—

My name, Gilly said between her teeth, is Galadriel.

Miss Ellis appeared not to have heard. Gilly, give Maime Trotter half a chance, OK? She’s really a nice person.

That cans it, thought Gilly. At least nobody had accused Mr. or Mrs. Nevins, her most recent foster parents, of being nice. Mrs. Richmond, the one with the bad nerves, had been nice. The Newman family, who couldn’t keep a five-year-old who wet her bed, had been nice. Well, I’m eleven now, folks, and, in case you haven’t heard, I don’t wet my bed anymore. But I am not nice. I am brilliant. I am famous across this entire county. Nobody wants to tangle with the great Galadriel Hopkins. I am too clever and too hard to manage. Gruesome Gilly, they call me. She leaned back comfortably. Here I come, Maime baby, ready or not.

They had reached a neighborhood of huge trees and old houses. The social worker slowed and stopped beside a dirty white fence. The house it penned was old and brown with a porch that gave it a sort of potbelly.

Standing on the porch, before she rang the bell, Miss Ellis took out a comb. Would you try to pull this through your hair?

Gilly shook her head. Can’t.

Oh, come on, Gilly—

No. Can’t comb my hair. I’m going for the Guiness Record for uncombed hair.

Gilly, for pete’s sake…

Hey, there, I thought I heard y’all pull up. The door had opened, and a huge hippopotamus of a woman was filling the doorway. Welcome to Thompson Park, Gilly, honey.

Galadriel, muttered Gilly, not that she expected this bale of blubber to manage her real name. Jeez, they didn’t have to put her in with a freak.

Half a small face, topped with muddy brown hair and masked with thick metal-rimmed glasses, jutted out from behind Mrs. Trotter’s mammoth hip.

The woman looked down. Well, ’scuse me, honey. She put her arm around the head as if to draw it forward, but the head resisted movement. You want to meet your new sister, don’t you? Gilly, this is William Ernest Teague.

The head immediately disappeared behind Mrs. Trotter’s bulk. She didn’t seem bothered. Come in, come in. I don’t mean to leave you standing on the porch like you was trying to sell me something. You belong here now. She backed up. Gilly could feel Miss Ellis’s fingers on her backbone gently prodding her through the doorway and into the house.

Inside, it was dark and crammed with junk. Everything seemed to need dusting.

William Ernest, honey, you want to show Gilly where her room is?

William Ernest clung to the back of Mrs. Trotter’s flowered housedress, shaking his head.

Oh, well, we can see to that later. She led them down the hallway to a living room. Just sit down and make yourself at home, now. She smiled all across her face at Gilly, like the After in a magazine diet ad—a Before body with an After smile.

The couch was brown and squat with a pile of cushions covered in graying lace at the far end. A matching brown chair with worn arms slumped at the opposite side of the room. Gray lace curtains hung at the single window between them, and beside the window was a black table supporting an old-time TV set with rabbit ears. The Nevinses had had color TV. On the right-hand wall between the door and the brown chair stood a black upright piano with a dusty brown bench. Gilly took one of the pillows off the couch and used it to wipe every trace of dust off the piano bench before sitting down on it.

From the brown chair Miss Ellis was staring at her with a very nonprofessional glare. Mrs. Trotter was lowering herself to the sofa and chuckling. Well, we been needing somebody to rearrange the dust around here. Ain’t we, William Ernest, honey?

William Ernest climbed up behind the huge woman and lay behind her back like a bolster pillow, poking his head around from time to time to sneak another look at Gilly.

She waited until Mrs. Trotter and Miss Ellis were talking, then gave little W.E. the most fearful face in all her repertory of scary looks, sort of a cross between Count Dracula and Godzilla. The little muddy head disappeared faster than a toothpaste cap down a sink drain.

She giggled despite herself. Both of the women turned to look at her. She switched easily and immediately to her Who, me? look.

Miss Ellis stood up. I need to be getting back to the office, Mrs. Trotter. You’ll let me know—She turned to Gilly with prickles in her big blue eyes—you’ll let me know if there’re any problems?

Gilly favored Miss Ellis with her best barracuda smile.

Meantime Mrs. Trotter was laboriously hefting herself to her feet. Don’t worry, Miz Ellis. Gilly and William Ernest and me is nearly friends already. My Melvin, God rest him, used to say that Trotter never met a stranger. And if he’d said kid, he woulda been right. I never met a kid I couldn’t make friends with.

Gilly hadn’t learned yet how to vomit at will, but if she had, she would have dearly loved to throw up on that one. So, lacking the truly perfect response, she lifted her legs and spun around to the piano, where she proceeded to bang out Heart and Soul with her left hand and Chopsticks with her right.

William Ernest scrambled off the couch after the two women, and Gilly was left alone with the dust, the out-of-tune piano, and the satisfaction that she had indeed started off on the right foot in her new foster home. She could stand anything, she thought—a gross guardian, a freaky kid, an ugly, dirty house—as long as she was in charge.

She was well on the way.


The room that Mrs. Trotter took Gilly to was about the size of the Nevinses’ new station wagon. The narrow bed filled up most of the space, and even someone as skinny as Gilly had to kneel on the bed in order to pull out the drawers of the bureau opposite it. Mrs. Trotter didn’t even try to come in, just stood in the doorway slightly swaying and smiling, her breath short from climbing the stairs.

Why don’t you just put your things away in the bureau and get yourself settled? Then when you feel like it, you can come on down and watch TV with William Ernest, or come talk to me while I’m fixing supper.

What an awful smile she had, Gilly thought. She didn’t even have all her teeth. Gilly dropped her suitcase on the bed and sat down beside it, kicking the bureau drawers with her toes.

You need anything, honey, just let Trotter know, OK?

Gilly jerked her head in a nod. What she needed was to be left alone. From the bowels of the house she could hear the theme song from Sesame Street. Her first job would be to improve W.E.’s taste in TV. That was for sure.

It’s goin’ to be OK, honey. I know it’s been hard to switch around so much.

I like moving. Gilly jerked one of the top drawers so hard it nearly came out onto her head. It’s boring to stay in one place.

Yeah. The big woman started to turn and then hesitated. Well—

Gilly slid off the bed and put her left hand on the doorknob and stuck her right hand on her hip.

Mrs. Trotter glanced down at the hand on the knob. Well, make yourself at home. You hear now?

Gilly slammed the door after her. God! Listening to that woman was like licking melted ice cream off the carton. She tested the dust on the top of the bureau, and then, standing on the bed, wrote in huge cursive curlicues, Ms. Galadriel Hopkins. She stared at the lovely letters she had made for a moment before slapping down her open palm in the middle of them and rubbing them all away.

The Nevinses’ house had been square and white and dustless, just like every other square, white, dustless house in the treeless development where they had lived. She had been the only thing in the

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What people think about The Great Gilly Hopkins

58 ratings / 53 Reviews
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  • (5/5)
    Tough foster kid Gilly is not interested in making friends when she is placed in a new home. All she wants, all she's wanted her whole life, is for her mother to come for her -- or for her, Gilly, to find some way of getting to her mother. Will Gilly find a way to make her dreams come true -- or will foster mother Mamie Trotter be able to win Gilly over to a different idea of family?I had read this before, but it's been at least ten years. This time, I listened to the audiobook. I had forgotten that this book is, in its own way, nearly as emotionally evocative as Bridge to Terabithia. Gilly is a complex and initially unlikable character, judgmental and racist, and her development over the course of the story is impressive.
  • (5/5)
    Gilly Hopkins is a foster child who has been moved from home to home. At the place where she expects to cause more trouble then ever, she discovers that it is actually the best place for her, and regrets a mistake she makes that takes her away.
  • (5/5)
    The story of Gilly Hopkins seemed as though it could be real. There were details provided to produce a great setting and I felt as though I were reading the story of a child who went through the foster care system. The setting of the house where she was living seemed so real. I could see all of the books in Mr. Randolph's house going every which way on the shelf and the dust that would be in the house of a blind man. These details made the story come alive for me. This story however, was not based upon a real story, so it is realistic fiction.
  • (5/5)
    Gilly is a independent over confident girl. she is a foster kid and she really wants her real mother back. she hates all of her foster parents and she has had a lot of foster parents. then she meets the Trotters at first she hates them then she doesn't know it but she starts to like them but she is still trying to get her mom. When she starts to really like them her mother comes and she go's with her mom. I think Katherine Paterson did a really good job on this book because it has a lot of detail so you know what is going on. I recommend this book to you if you like books that you cant put down. and if you like books with emotion.
  • (3/5)
    It had a good moral and the story/characters were interesting, but something about this felt incredibly dated. I can't put my finger on it, but it felt like it took place in the 70s or 80s.
  • (3/5)
    I had mixed feelings about this book. The first reason I liked the book was because it was about a young girl who learns to let herself be vulnerable and open up to others. I like the fact that at first she wants to be called by her real name, Galadriel, but when her teacher wants to call her Galadriel, she yells and says that her name is Gilly. I think it's funny and something readers can sometimes relate to in school. I also liked that Gilly did not want to let Trotter get to know her, but by the end she didn't want to leave and told Trotter that she loved her. It was shocking that Gilly didn't want to go live with her grandmother after all this time of only wanting to be with her real family. One thing I didn't like about the book was how slow the story progressed. I got a bit bored in the middle of the book and kept waiting for something big to happen. Another thing I didn't like was that Gilly was portrayed as a mean girl and didn't listen to anyone or follow the rules. That is not a good message to have in a book because kids are more likely to follow what they read. Overall, the big idea of the book was to be yourself no matter the obstacle.
  • (5/5)
    There's no feeling more worse than to know your not wanted by family. I like this book and felt every emotion Gilly felt. Paterson use of descriptive language in this book takes readers on an emotional roller coaster experiencing the high and low moments in Gilly life. I hoped for a happy ending, but instead, reality presented itself. Life does not always go the way we want it to go and that was Paterson purpose for writing. Sometimes we just have to accept things the way they are, make the best of it, and live our lives.
  • (5/5)
    This fits into the genre of Realistic Fiction because it is convincingly true to life and allows children to see into to the life of someone else, and in turn examine their own lives. They are able to see the complexity of human interaction. A variety of people are present in the story who are unique.
  • (3/5)
    *Warning! Spoilers! DO NOT READ if you don't want to know about the ending! Warning!*I really don't know what to say about this book. One thing's for sure: It sent me on a roller-coaster ride, emotionally. The first few chapters had me fighting not to skip over paragraphs, it was slow and boring and out of date. Then I really warmed to the plot (if not exactly to Gilly herself), and I was turning pages faster and faster to get to that happy ending that i just knew was coming.Only it didn't. The happy ending never happened. Neither the one Gilly envisioned, of her real mother "rescuing" her, or the one I figured was most likely, where she stays with Trotter and becomes a real part of that family. No, no happy endings here. I knew Courtney wouldn't rescue Gilly. I've read too many of these foster kid books to think that. Which is why it was so frustrating (and, for me, tear-jerking) when Gilly really DID start liking Trotter and WE, and because of her stupid rash letter to her mother, she gets taken away from the only people who've actually loved her. That last chapter had me bawling. I've said this in other reviews, I'll say it again, I cry easily. It's not uncommon for me to cry during a book. Even so... Up to that very last page I was so sure Gilly would end up back with Trotter, especially after her heartsinking realization that Courtney actually wasn't going to save her or even stay with her. I mean, I do understand the whole "moral" behind the ending, and Trotter's words to Gilly on that last page... But man what a letdown. To go off with a grandmother you don't know and a mother who doesn't want you, instead of being with the family who loves you and who you want to be with.... Dang.
  • (5/5)
    Gilly is known as the toughest girl in school and is living with an large, religious woman and her annoyingly shy son. Gilly who is in foster care gets placed with this family and immediately starts day dreaming ways to make their lives miserable. The affection the woman shows Gilly softens her heart, and Gilly will always love them for loving her. Based on plot I rate this novel a 5 star. The beginning chapter were engaging and strong reeling the reader in. The character of Gilly is humerous and keeps the atmosphere of the book light even with a heavy topic. The resolution at the end with Gilly meeting her mom and living with her grandmother is an okay resolution but what really yanks the readers heart is the change in tone, vocabulary and attitude. Gilly gives up having dreaming of the perfect ending for that perfect ending never came and will never come. The story ends suddenly allowing the reader to understand where Gilly, Mrs. Trotter and her mom are at but imagin where the rest of Gilly's life will lead her.
  • (5/5)
    Gilly has been bumped from one foster home to another, and has learned the hard way to stay tough and not get too attached to anyone or anything while she waits for her mother to decide that she wants her daughter. Then she gets landed in a home that she thinks is the worst yet, but she eventually realizes it's where she belongs and want to be.From the author who broke my heart with The Bridge to Terabithia, I should have known that I'd love this one, even though I started the thing really not liking Gilly at all. That's as Paterson wants it, of course, and then she makes you fall in love with the girl and her story. Very well done.
  • (5/5)
    Genre: Realistic Fiction - This book is a good example of realistic fiction because it is a made up story but it is true to the everyday occurrences of life. Since the main character of this book is a young girl, the students will be able to relate to her . If a student who was also adopted has read the book they can relate to her as well, but if they have not been adopted they can just feel sympathy for her. It helps the reader to see into different perspectives of the world outside of readers life. We also see into what the human social behavior is like. This is a great story, and a lot of students can relate to this book because it is something that could really happen.Characters: The main character Gilly Hopkins is the protagonist of the story but I would also say she is the antagonist at the same time. She is starts off by being a brat and is mean to everyone and not thankful at all. She even starts stealing from people so she can get away. As the story continues, she begins to realize she is wrong and changes her attitude and starts to help people. She loves the family she lives with and wants to stay but it forced to leave, and finds something good out of that experience. She was a very well rounded character and she grew a lot through her experiences. Art Media: NoneStyle: While I was reading the book I could really visualize what was going on, because the author was using a lot of imagery. It was really helpful and it made the story more interesting. The author described a lot of the surroundings which I also liked too. It helped me to use my creativity as well to visualize what was going on.
  • (4/5)
    Gilly Hopkins has been shuttled around to several different foster homes since her mother left, and Gilly's perfected the art of not caring about anyone. When she arrives at the house of a new foster mother Mrs. Trotter, Gilly's certain she can drive Trotter crazy and break free to join her mother in California. But things don't turn out the way she planned. I read this book when I was in grade school and loved it, so I wanted to see how it would hold up. Parts of it felt dated (references to The Electric Company, Walter Cronkite, etc. - do today's kids know who/what those are?), but the spirit of the text still shone through. Red flag for language - Gilly uses the word "damn" several times throughout the book and some parents might find that objectionable (especially in the audio). Alyssa Bresnahan is one of my favorite narrators and I always enjoy her work.
  • (4/5)
    This book is very emotionally affecting, so much so that it may be too much for some readers. This story of a bounced-around foster child might be triggering to those who have lived through similar circumstances, and the book's portrayal of race has not aged well. While I don't condone shielding children from all serious issues, I would be careful about recommending this book without carefully considering the audience.
  • (4/5)
    Read for class...Gilly (Galadreil) Hopkins is a kid stuck in the foster system, convinced that her mom will come to reclaim her some day soon. She is full of anger and deceit, until she meets Mamie Trotter and learns that family comes in many shapes and sizes. I really enjoyed this book, the writing is excellent and the frustrations of Gilly's life feel very real yet not too over done.
  • (5/5)
    This was a good example of realistic fiction because the events and characters in the story were true to life as there really are foster kids who travel from place to place and have behavior problems as Gilly does throughout the book. As in realistic fiction books, we are able to see the complexity of human interaction as we watch Gilly go from hating the Trotters, to wanting to live with them.
  • (5/5)
    Gilly pushes away all people who try to get close to her as a method of self-preservation. She has been abandoned so many times, she tries to believe that she doesn't need anybody and that her biological mother will love her if given the chance. Finally Maime and William Earnest give her a home with unconditional love and acceptace. Gilly's previous search for more, however, leads to her maternal grandmother finding her and removing her from the system. Gilly ultimately accepts that, while this might not be the place that will bring her the most happiness, she must represent Maime and all Maime taught her well and be there for her lonley grandmother.
  • (4/5)
    Gilly Hopkins has been passed around from foster home to foster home for pretty much all of her eleven years. She's determined to keep control of her life by keeping everyone else off balance. Gilly's determined love for the mother she hasn't seen in forever, and her determined hate for her latest foster family make her tough but also unhappy. This exploration of what happens to a child who doesn't have someplace to call her own is poignant. Trotter's words to Gilly at the end, "Nothing to make you happy like doing good on a tough job, now is there?" sum up what Gilly learns - happy isn't some fairytale ending, but making the choices that respect yourself, and caring about others.
  • (4/5)
    Critique: Genre: This example of a child in foster care could easily happen because she has a desire to be loved and wanter by her mother. She deals with intense feelings that most children in foster care or orphans would deal with concerning bitterness, the lack of feeling love, and the need to feel worthy. Through her family she is with, she is able to break down these barriers and realize that she loves them and that she has room in her heart to forgive, move on, and love other people. Not all children could initially relate because they may not be adopted or being a foster child. However, many children can relate to the feelings that Gilly experiences. Character: William Ernest is a dynamic character in this book. He is a main character, though we don't know as much about him like Gilly, because it is not written through his point of view. He is initially extremely shy and scared of anyone and hides behind Trotter. However, after Gilly befriends him and shows him how to defend himself, he becomes more confident in who he is. His character is mostly revealed through his interaction and conversations with Gilly. We observe him through her point of view. Media: Mixed media
  • (4/5)
    A brilliant girl is forced to understand that family is defined in multiple ways, by what you think you want (ideal), by what you have (comfort) and by blood. The story of a foster child, who has grown up thinking she can't trust anyone but herself is the main character of this young adult novel focusing on what it means to be satisfied with what life has given you.While the moral of this story is a bit pat, and I hated that it was so contritely summed up in the final two pages through a telephone conversation, I have to admit that I loved the development of Gilly Hopkins throughout the novel. She is a girl who wants to be able to take care of herself, forgetting everything else around her until it is a bit too late to change any of her past actions.While it might not have worked as a young adult novel being stretched out into the following years and the experiences Gilly has with her biological grandmother and mother, these are the scenes that I think might be the strongest in the story. Yes, connections with William Ernest and Mr. Randolph were necessary in getting Gilly to understand that relationships are about what you make of them, not what is simply given to you, they don't finish the story in a satisfying way for me.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed reading The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson, because of its well-developed characters with strong personalities and well-paced plot that kept the reader interested the entire time. The author was able to create a strong sense of who each character was, especially the main character, Gilly, through unique, expressive language. For example, Gilly's confident, bold comments throughout the book such as "I am too clever and too hard to manage. Gruesome Gilly, they call me" created a strong sense of self in Gilly, giving the reader the feeling they knew exactly who she was. Also, the author kept a nice pace throughout the story of Gilly's adventure through the foster care system, and kept the story interesting with new, unfolding events. This was utilized throughout, but some examples were Gilly coming to her new foster home and meeting her "foster mom" and "foster brother", and then having her real Grandmother come and gain custody of her and letting Gilly meet her real mother. As the story unraveled, the reader got more enthralled in the plot with the different relations between all of the characters, creating a great story that was always engaging. The story told the idea of having to be strong and take on whatever life throws at you, because surviving life is "tough but makes you happy".
  • (2/5)
    I was interested in reading this chapter book just by the short description on the back cover. I thought this book was going to be a lot different. The first two chapters struck me as misleading in relation to the blonde haired girl on the cover. I had mixed feelings of this book after I completed reading it. I found that it was very hard to like the main character, Gilly. This is because she was prejudice towards African Americans and she swore as an 11 year old. Not forming a liking towards the main character made it difficult for me to get to the climax of the novel. I did like how the author made so many relationships between different characters. For example, The relationship between Trotter and W.E. was a mutual love and appreciation. The giving of those emotions were evident from Trotter to Gilly but were not given in return. I also enjoyed that Miss. Harris was able to make a connection with Gilly and explain how she deals with all of her built up anger.I think this story was very realistic and I appreciated how the author had multiple climaxes to lead to Gilly's epiphany at the end. I also liked how the reader can see how GIlly transformed from the beginning of the book to the end and it was all because of the positive influences from Trotter, Mr. Randolph, and Ms. Harris. These positive mentors guided Gilly in realizing that she needed to change her perspective of others and life. The overall theme is to appreciate someone who loves you. Gilly found that Trotter's love for her was greater than anyone in the past, even though Gilly was mean and disrespectful towards her. She developed a sense of belonging and desire that she had never felt with previous foster families and her own birth mother. I did not like how misleading the content of this book was in relation to the cover and description. I did like the lesson that the book portrayed, however, I do not think it should be read in school because of the prejudice remarks and reference to stealing, lying, and bullying as a 11 year old, no matter the background of that child or circumstances.
  • (4/5)
    Galadriel "Gilly" Hopkins is one of those protagonists that I immediately despised and grew to dislike more as the book went along. It was clear from the beginning that she would learn some life lessons and be a better child in the end, but it was rough getting there for a reader like myself, who particularly enjoys liking the main character.Gilly is in foster care and has been passed from family to family. Nobody manages to keep her very long because she is just awful, and since no one seems to want her, she doesn't want anybody. But then she is placed with the old and obese widow Mrs. Trotter and her other foster child, a younger boy who Gilly suspects is mentally handicapped. And next door lives an ancient blind black man with a penchant for fine poetry, who always eats dinner with Mrs. Trotter and her foster children. Gilly, who is completely unreligious (Mrs. Trotter is a faithful baptist) and who is also rather racist in her attitudes, thinks this is the worst house she's ever been put in.Around the half-way point of the book, she starts turning the corner and improves. The ending was not at all what I expected or what I hoped it would be. But it was the perfect ending for the book all the same.
  • (5/5)
    Readers can relate to this story in many different ways, the events are also very believable. These factors make this book a good example of realistic fiction. There is also wonderful character development in this book. In the beginning of the book, Gilly, the main character, is mean and avoidant of any kind of love or kindness. However, through her time with her new foster family she realizes that she can let her guard down. By the end of the story, Gilly is loving and she expresses that love. This is a huge change for the great Gilly Hopkins.
  • (4/5)
    This book is about a girl named Gilly. She is a foster child. Gilly hates being a foster child! She believes that her mom is going to one day pick her up from her foster home and take her home to her mom's house. She makes a plan to have her mom come rescue her by sending her a letter, but, the plan doesn't turn out the way she planned it. If you like books about foster children, naughty children, and if you want to find out what is in the letter, I think this book is for you.
  • (3/5)
    The author has the unique honor of receiving two Newbery Medals, one for The Bridge to Terabithia and another for Jacob I have Loved. The Great Gilly Hopkins is a 1979 Newbery honor book.It is obvious that Paterson knows the heart and soul of young adults. Her writings provide clear insights into children facing troubled situations.Galadriel (Gilly) Hopkins is an angry, manipulative 11 year old. Shuffled from many foster homes, she flips a cold, nasty attitude to anyone who dares to walk in her path. No one is spared -- Teachers are mocked and tested; foster parents are driven to the edge in trying to reach her and children on the playground are beaten.When Gilly is placed in the home of the Trotters she decides it is time to run away from what she calls the fat woman and her retarded foster child William Earnest.When her scheme to connect with her biological mother nets the result she had not planned, Gilly learns an important lesson in realizing her biological mother is not the wonderful person she imagined and the Trotters aren't so terrible after all.Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Great Gilly Hopkins." One reason I enjoyed the book was because of the realistic, well-developed characters. Gilly's stubborn, witty and clever personality was intriguing to me and I found her to be very funny. In the beginning of the story when Gilly is on her way to meet the Trotters, she says, "But I am not nice. I am brilliant... I am too clever and too hard to manage." Gilly's bold and confident comments and thoughts truly helped to develop her character and allowed the reader to really get inside of her head. Another reason I enjoyed this book was the plot itself. It made you want to keep turning the page and see what kind of adventure (and sometimes trouble) Gilly got into next. Gilly's character developed a great deal as the plot unfolded which was also very interesting to see. She went from a stubborn, closed-off girl to someone who was finally able to develop a bond and relationship with a family, which is what she had always wanted. I believe the big idea of this book is to cherish what you have while you have it and to stay strong during tough times and you will come out even stronger and happier.
  • (4/5)
    I liked this book for three reasons. One reason why I liked this book was because of the written text. In the beginning of the book, Gilly reads a poem to Mr. Randolph. I really liked the words the author used to describe Mr. Randolph's rendition of it by saying he recited the poem "powerfully and musically, on his own favorite lines." You could hear Mr. Randolph reciting these lines like you were sitting next to them reading the book. Another reason why I liked this book was the plot. The whole time you felt everything that Gilly was going through, like you are a foster child yourself. Especially the part where Gilly steals money from Mrs. Trotter and she says that she can go "all the way to Courtney Rutherford Hopkins, all the way home." You not only feel what Gilly is feeling but you feel hurt for Mrs. Trotter because she is trying so hard to make her home a home for Gilly. Another reason I liked this book was the realistic characters. Throughout Gillys stay at Mrs. Trotters, you can see her growth into a young adult. At the end when she calls Mrs. Trotter from the airport and tells her she loves her is the part when you can actually see Gilly grow up right before your eyes. The big message that I got from this book was that even though you may not have your biological family, you will always have a family that loves you.
  • (5/5)
    This wasn't as exciting as a lot of stories. It wasn't as emotionally powerful, or at least not in the same way, as a lot of stories but when I finished there was never any question or debate as to what I would rate it. It was exactly what it needed to be and I loved the characters and the writing. Gilly is alive and real and I miss her already.
  • (2/5)
    I did not particularly like this book. I believe that there was no overall plot to this story. It ended abruptly and left the reader hanging wondering how her experience would be with her mother. I did however like the character development throughout the book. I really enjoyed seeing how Gilly softened up to Trotter and William Earnest and how she helped them learn new things. I believe that this book provided a window into the life of children living in foster care. The overall message of this story was that with a little love and support you can change someone's life.