top of page

Piece by Piece

Ernestine's Gift for

President Roosevelt



Millbrook Press

(Lerner Publishing)

(pub. 9.5.2023)

32 pages

Ages 5-9

Author: Lupe Ruiz-Flores

   Illustrator: Anna López Real

Character: Ernestine Guerrero


" During the Great Depression, times were tough for families across the United States. In San Antonio, Texas, Ernestine Guerrero and her family relied on wooden crates of free food from the government.

The Mexican American teen was so grateful for the government food aid they received that she wanted to personally thank President Roosevelt. But how? After seeing the plans for a very difficult woodworking project, she decided she would make it herself and send it to the president. Piece by piece, that's exactly what she did. And the clock case she built remains on display in the Roosevelt Presidential Library to this day.

With stunning illustrations from Anna López Real, this picture book tells the inspiring true story of a girl who proved that if you look closely, treasure can be found in unexpected places."

Tantalizing taste:

"One day, her uncle

gave her a woodworking pattern for a clock case

called the Chimes of Normandy.

Ernestine studied it closely

and discovered the pattern required 156 pieces of wood.

Each piece had to fit together

to make the 40-inch-high clock case.

It seemed like an impossible task,

and that's how she knew it was the right way to thank the president."

And something more: Lupe Ruiz-Flores, in the Author's Note explains that "the sculpture and Ernestine's letter to the president are part of an exhibit at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in upstate New York. Unfortunately, the letter from the president thanking Ernestine for the gift was destroyed in a house fire... Ernestine never knew that she had become part of history when her two-year labor of love created from discarded wooden crates became a permanent display in the FDR museum. Her daughters have visited the dispay in New York and are extremely proud that their mother's memory is being kept alive."


bottom of page