A simple set of five front steps in the city is a child's whole universe, easily becoming playground, hideout, circus arena, school, and home. As the four seasons pass, the unnamed narrator sweeps away ""all the dirt and bugs and the glass, if some got broken during the night,"" creating a clean slate, a canvas, a stage. She shovels snow, plants crumpled green paper bushes along cement-crack rivers in springtime, and splashes in the fire hydrant's summer spray. Her strong narration focuses on the tiny events that make up a day of make-believe. Derby (Jacob and the Stranger, 1994, etc.) keeps the text fairly general; Burrowes, using a cut-paper collage technique with watercolors, shows a brown-skinned girl in an inner-city environment, but this heroine could be any child and the steps, anywhere. Anyone who has played ""pretend"" with cracks in the sidewalk, held a tea party in the shade of a hanging blanket, or ridden a sawhorse to first place will understand the rules of Derby's steps, where each scene has the pleasing simplicity of Peter's world in Ezra Jack Keats's The Snowy Day (1962).