cover image The Little Red Fort

The Little Red Fort

Brenda Maier, illus. by Sonia Sánchez. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-85919-6

In this update of “The Little Red Hen,” debut author Maier casts a dark-haired girl named Ruby as the lead and her older brothers Oscar Lee, Rodrigo, and José as the gang that declines to help her (“No way” is José’s stock reply). Undaunted, Ruby draws plans for a fort, gathers supplies, and assembles the structure without them. Then, of course, they want to use it. The scribbly lines and bright colors contributed by Sanchez (The Curious Cares of Bears) convey exuberance on every page. She pictures Ruby dreaming up her fort in the family bathroom, then consulting her father (who has a drafting board) and her mother (who wields an impressive collection of tools). Even Ruby’s grandmother gets in on the action. Maier keeps her prose spare and preserves the rhythms and taglines of the original (“ ‘Fine,’ said Ruby. ‘I’ll hammer them myself.’ And she did”). Ruby’s satisfaction is palpable, and readers won’t fail to grasp the message of self-sufficiency. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Bookmark Literary. (Mar.) [/em]