top of page

The Picture Book Buzz

The Little Red Fort - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I love fractured fairy tales. So many great ones have come out this past year. I am pleased to introduce you to a charming story that takes a slightly dated fairy tale with a selfish ending and turns it on its head. Making it relevant to today's kids, while maintaining the underlying message and giving the blah ending a boost of cooperation.

The Little Red Fort

Author: Brenda Maier

Illustrator: Sonja Sánchez

Publisher: Scholastic (2018)

Ages: 4-8



Diversity, fractured fairytale, cooperation, ingenuity, and determination

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

Ruby's mind is always full of ideas.

One day, she finds some old boards and decides to build something. She invites her brothers to help, but they just laugh and tell her she doesn't know how to build.

"Then I'll learn," she says.

And she does!

When she creates a dazzling fort that they all want to play in, it is Ruby who has the last laugh.

With sprightly text and winsome pictures, this modern spin on the timeless favorite The Little Red Hen celebrates the pluck and ingenuity of young creators everywhere!

Opening Lines:

Ruby's mind was always full of ideas

One day, she found some old boards.

"Who wants to help me build something," she asked her brothers.

Why I like this book:

This book strikes the perfect chord between a child's love for making forts (haven't we all made a blanket or pillow fort, for a child or ourselves?) and their almost ingrained desire to avoid "work."

Image © Sonja Sánchez, 2018, text © copyright Brenda Maier, 2018.

The basic premise of most of the Little Red Hen retellings - if you don't do the work, you don't get the reward - remains. However, this version tweaks the traditional ending in a fun and satisfying way.

After Ruby excludes her brothers from the fort for not helping, the brothers attempt to make amends by painting the fort, planting a garden, and making a mailbox. Eventually, Ruby lets them join her in the fort and share a steaming plate of cookies.

Image © Sonja Sánchez, 2018, text © copyright Brenda Maier, 2018.

I love that after using her father's drafting table to create the plans, the people helping cut boards in the shop and hammer it all together are Ruby's mother and grandmother.

Image © Sonja Sánchez, 2018, text © copyright Brenda Maier, 2018.

In addition to celebrating the fort's creation with a cocoa party for her stuffed animals, Sánchez also depicts Ruby with a tool belt and hammer making whirligigs for her fort. Yeah for multifaceted girl power!

The large, brightly colored images portray the entire family's enthusiasm for life and individual creativity - as seen specifically in the boys' chalk drawings, dad's office, mom's shop, and the decorations in the fort. This is a wonderful book for celebrating determination, self-sufficiency, ingenuity, and cooperation.


- build a blanket or box fort (see some examples at the back of the book);

- discuss ways to help or show kindness to others.

If you missed it, Brenda Maier stopped by to talk about The Little Red Fort and share a sweet secret.

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

Follow Me

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • 1473394675_goodreads
  • Pinterest



bottom of page