The Great Gilly Hopkins

by Katherine Paterson

Paperback, 2004



Call number

PB Pat

Call number

PB Pat

Local notes

PB Pat




HarperCollins (2004), 160 pages


An eleven-year-old foster child tries to cope with her longings and fears as she schemes against everyone who tries to be friendly.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

160 p.; 5.25 inches

Media reviews

new york times
One of my favorites from grade school. Despite her hatred towards her adoptive family, one of my favorite Gilly moments is where she teaches WE (the little boy) to stand up for himself by saying "Get the hell outta my way!" I would recommend this to anyone, regardless of the age group.

User reviews

LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member AllisonStrait
In my opinion this was an excellent book. The book was about a foster child, Gilly Hopkins, who did not have a steady home for all of her life. Finally, Gilly comes across a home where she is wanted, but Gilly’s attitude towards that family is bad. As a result, Gilly goes looking for her mother,
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but is very disappointed when she finally meets her. She ends up getting forced to live with her grandmother and not with the family that really cares about her. I liked this book because of the plot. There was a clear conflict of Gilly being wanted and finding her home. The story was suspenseful because you did not know what would happen next for Gilly. The pace of the book was also very good and it was a book that could not be put down. A second thing I liked about this book was that it pushed readers to think about tough issues. Gilly was a foster child and her life was not easy. It was easy to feel sad for Gilly and hope that she found happiness. The big idea of this book was acceptance. Gilly was unable to accept her life without her mother in it. She learned the hard way that she should have accepted Trotter and William Ernest because they actually cared about her, where he mother did not and was a huge disappointment to Gilly.
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LibraryThing member aconant05
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.
LibraryThing member sharmon05
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member lleighton05
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
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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
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LibraryThing member mentormom
The main character of this book is Gilly a foster child who has been moved around a lot. She struggles with fears, anger, and feeling alone and unloved. She lies, steals, bullies other kids, is prejudiced, and uses profanity.

She learns to eventually trust and love her foster family before being
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removed to live with her grandmother. At the end of the book, she finally meets her biological mother only to find that her mother does not love her and is not interested in living with her.

This is a great book for discussion but it may be disturbing for kids reading it on their own. I think it is most appropriate for kids over 13. Kids ages 11-12 may or may not be okay reading it due to its themes, but I think the profanity is inappropriate for children. Kids 10 and under will probably be disturbed by the themes unless they have a troubled past.

My 10 year old was uncomfortable after she read it on her own. She did feel better after we discussed it. I wish that she had read it at an older age and that we had read it together and discussed it throughout.

I personally enjoyed the book and think it is a good book to discuss with youth 13 and older. It's a wonderful book for developing empathy and understanding how anger and fear affect people. It shows the affects that out-of-wedlock pregnancies can have on the children born and how the lack of good parenting affects young children. It also teaches how to love those who are deeply wounded. It's a good jumping off point for discussing how to deal with tough situations (when life isn't fair).
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LibraryThing member rturba
Genre: Realistic fiction
Media: oil paint (cover)
Age Appropriateness: intermediate and up
Plot: person against society
Characterization: William Ernest is a flat dynamic character. We know nothing about him from the beginning of the book. He is so shy that you often forget he is even in the story.
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Then suddenly as Gilly comes to know him he opens up and we realize that he a troubled and nervous little boy. By the end of the book he is strong and able to take care of himself. He goes from a scared and almost invisible child to a brave and loving young boy who is noticeable in a room. He learns how to take care of himself from Gilly.
Review: This is a great example of realistic fiction, because situations like Gilly's are happening everyday. Foster care is a reality for many children and is often too harsh of a reality. This story is completely fictional, but many children can relate to it so that it becomes reality.
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LibraryThing member jgabica
This realistic fiction novel was a very enjoyable read. Gilly is quite the troublemaker as all she wants in life is to be with her mother and out of foster care-until she finally discovers the truth at the end that her mom doesn't want her.
LibraryThing member eward06
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
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LibraryThing member rvangent
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
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of human interaction as we watch Gilly go from hating the Trotters, to wanting to live with them.
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LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member mvanemmerik
This book is a good example of realistic fiction because it contains real life events such as a child living in a foster home, but is a fictitious story.
Gilly is a good example of a main character because the reader is allowed to see her innermost thoughts and actions, making her a well-rounded
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character in the story.
Art Media: None
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LibraryThing member loeb001
This book is about a young girl, Gilly Hopkins, who is a foster child that goes from one foster family to the next. She is considered brilliant but also a trouble-maker. She has just been placed with a new foster parent who is a widow know as Mrs. Trotter. Gilly's new family consists of another boy
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and a blind black man. Her only wish is that her real mother, which she claims is beautiful, to come rescue her, but when it comes true she begins to question herself.
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LibraryThing member aliptak
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
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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: None

Style: 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.
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LibraryThing member sharty
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member kshielee
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member mysteena
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
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writing is excellent and the frustrations of Gilly's life feel very real yet not too over done.
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LibraryThing member born1990
Genre: Realistic Fiction

This book is a good example of realistic fiction because it is based on real life and could happen in everyday life. It doesn't take a lot of imagination of the reader to understand the story.It involves day to day activities, and it is easy to put oneself into the shoes of
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the main character, Gilly. The setting of this story is very important, It changes as Gilly moves from foster home to foster home, but it has to be the specific setting for each home, because it helps tell the story and explains Gilly's reactions to different things.

Level: Middle School/Adolescent
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LibraryThing member stephxsu
11-year-old Gilly Hopkins has been shuffled through more foster families than she cares to remember, and when she arrives at Mrs. Trotter’s doorstep, she is determined to be a nightmare to this lady as well, so that her mother, off being an actress in California, will come and get her. But things
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don’t go as planned when Gilly finds herself actually caring about the new people in her lives.

Although written over 30 years ago, THE GREAT GILLY HOPKINS will still be a cute read for the avid young reader, despite the fact that some aspects of the book, particularly the racist element, may be dated. Gilly is fiercely determined to hold on to her gruffness, which may delight young girls who love their anti-heroines. And yet she has a definite soft side, even though she may not want to admit it. I chuckled as Gilly’s attempts to stay cold and detached often backfired on her. Gilly comes from a time when racism is still latent, and so some of her reactions to people may be a little uncomfortable for us. Still, it’s important to note that the book itself isn’t a racist book, and that over the course of the book Gilly grows. I have other juvenile fiction contemporary favorites out there, but this one isn’t so bad.
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LibraryThing member Whisper1
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
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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.

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LibraryThing member AlyssaSwiderski
Galadriel (Gilly) Hopkins is an 11 year old who has been shuffled back and forth between foster homes and hasn't been taking it well. When she finally ends up at one house, she vows to make Mrs. Trotter suffer. Gilly wants to misbehave so that her mother has to come get her. This plan
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doesn't turn out how she thinks it will. No matter how nice everyone is, Gilly keeps her awful attitude going. After different events, she finds herself caring for the new people in her life.

Personal Reaction:
This was a very touching story. I was kind of thrown off by the ending since she finally started getting along with her foster family and she got taken away. I was hoping for more of a "happily ever after" ending. If introducing it to children I would make sure that they know this is an older book and the underlying racism tones are outdated.

Classroom Extensions:
I would recommend this book for students in the foster system, I think they would relate to Gilly more so than other students.
I would have students write a short story about their own families, even is they are not "normal" ones. I would also them draw a picture of their families.
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LibraryThing member Yona
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.
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Gilly is alive and real and I miss her already.
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LibraryThing member bstove1
In my opinion, The Great Gilly Hopkins, was a good children’s book. I did like characters in the book. I think that Gilly was really easy to relate to, which is important for children to feel when they are reading books. Gilly puts up walls to protect herself from getting too attached or hurt by
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others. She tries to stay tough and strong, but on the inside she is emotionally damaged, which causes her to want to run away when life gets tough. I think that everyone has felt this way before at least once in their life and seeing her transformation in the end, is inspiring. I did not like the ending to the book. I think that the author should have made the ending more meaningful and hopeful. It was almost like the author wanted to say that life doesn’t always turn out like you want it to, but for children I feel like they shouldn’t think that way. Children enjoy hopeful endings, which I don’t feel that this one had. The main idea of this book is that everything happens for a reason, even if it is not what you had originally planned.
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LibraryThing member Tammie14
I was really disappointed with this book. When I read the short description of the book, I was excited to read of a little girl’s obstacles growing up in foster care. The book did do this, but I also expected to like Gilly, which I did not. Gilly was an angry little girl (understandably so). She
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was judgmental, racist, and disrespectful, with little redeeming qualities. Gilly cursed, made racist comments, and had little to no regard for the feelings of those around her. This character betrayal of Gilly made it nearly impossible for me to like her. Therefore, I did not enjoy the book.

The main idea of this story is to appreciate and notice the people in your life that truly care for you. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
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