Ruby has a pile of boards, a fuzzy idea, and three brothers. And like the little red hen, Ruby’s on her own.
Her smart-aleck brothers have time for neither their pesky sister nor her project. “ ‘Who wants to help me draw the plans?’ Ruby asked….‘Not me,’ said Oscar Lee. ‘I don’t think so,’ said Rodrigo. ‘No way,’ said José. ‘I’m too busy.’ ” With the help of her mother and grandmother, Ruby saws and hammers until the backyard fort takes pride of place in the backyard—much to the envious grumblings of the three boys. When Ruby won’t let them inside, the brothers paint the fort, add a mailbox, and plant flowers in hopes of a reprieve. “Ruby was delighted.” Mollified, she invites them in for a plate of cookies. Barcelonan artist Sánchez incorporates fun details such as the strings of papel picado bedecking the fort and the brothers’ chalk art. Her textured illustrations and sense of humor add depth to each dynamic scene. Throughout the story, Maier’s little Latina go-getter breaks gender and cultural stereotypes. She outthinks and outperforms the boys. She uses her dad’s drafting table and her mom’s workshop, and female relatives help build the fort. In light of this, it’s too bad the boys don’t propitiate Ruby with further gender-norm–defying gestures, instead joining her to eat cookies she evidently has baked.
Despite a lost opportunity, a mostly empowering story for children and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)