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The Toothpaste Millionaire
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The Toothpaste Millionaire

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4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  755 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Twelve-year-old Rufus Mayflower didn't set out to make a million dollars. That's just the way it happened. It all started because Rufus was upset about the high cost of toothpaste. He bet he could make a gallon of toothpaste for what it cost to buy one tube. And he did. And the business kept growing. The students of Mr. Conti's math class helped to work out the increasingl ...more
Hardcover, 89 pages
Published 1972 by Houghton Mifflin Company
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Lisa
I learned a valuable lesson or two with this book. If I read it that was long ago because it's been around as long as I can remember. A 5/6th grade Math teacher asked for recommendations and since this book always comes up when searching for "math" fiction I decided I should investigate.

My copy is about 30 years old, and it is ugly. Who would want to read it? Well, I did and the book is valuable! If you haven't read it, do so. There is a good reason this book is still included in many Opening Da
...more
Brianna Helmer
Oct 20, 2014 Brianna Helmer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dr. Sykes
As part of UMHB's READ 3307, I read The Toothpaste Millionaire. This is a fun and educational story that will catch older readers attention and help them gain interest in new topics like economics and inventions. The story follows Kate, a 6th grader and her friend Rufus, who is a genius. Rufus has formulated a type of toothpaste because he is outraged at the cost of the toothpaste available in stores. The book is about how he markets and sells his toothpaste and the expansion of his business whi ...more
Melissa Proffitt
This is a great little story about how an idea becomes a product becomes a business. As a child, I loved the idea that a kid could become a millionaire by creating something everyone used and then selling it at a reasonable price. As an adult, I enjoy the interactions between the characters. Rufus isn't too smart to take advice from his friend Kate, and through helping Rufus, Kate discovers a talent for writing. The technology is a little dated, and today's children may not be familiar with how ...more
Tony Bradshaw
Spoiler alert!

I take the time to write a review because I want to remember some of the ways that the characters create and handle their business challenges.

Stockholders: The main character, a 6th grade boy, convinces other people to work for him not for money today but a return on the investment of time later on. He has a projection of where sales will be and the profit he'll make, and those who help in the early stages get ownership in the company. 100 hours equals one share in the profits, whi
...more
Trena
I thought this was an adorable book about a smart boy and his friends. It is really a shocking tale of a great idea. I loved it, I even did a book report on it. The story of how I found it starts in my 4th grade elementary library. The library was having a book sale because they wanted to get more books. So When I saw it I just wanted to get it because I thought it would be cool. Boy did it go past my expectations!
Trace
Great book on being a young entrepreneur... I enjoyed it every bit as much as my son did.... I think he would have benefited from reading it at a slightly older age - maybe 9. He understood quite a bit of the math but not all of it because we obviously haven't covered those concepts yet.... we own this book so we'll reread it in a couple of years.
Jacqui Ainsworth
Jan 06, 2008 Jacqui Ainsworth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preteens
Shelves: homeschooling
I really enjoyed this one. It has many educational aspects without being a beat your head over it type of book. It deals with racism, sexism, math, stocks, accounting, and more all in a quick read. I read it on my own when I found myself bookless but I'll be sharing it with my kids very soon.
Angie Libert
A great kid's book that has stimulated alot of conversation on frugality, making stuff, and business ownership. Thanks for the lead JoDean. This is a definite reread!
Christa
A young girl describes how her school friend made over a million dollars by creating and marketing a cheaper and better toothpaste. This provides a very clear explanation of how an individual starts a business and becomes an entrepreneur. Very age appropriate and enjoyable to read. A great read-aloud for elementary classrooms with across-the-curriculum connections to math. The author uses characters children will relate to through friendship and school situations. Told from a unique point of vie ...more
John
This was a very good read for my 9 year old son and I together. The story of the narrator's friend Rufus coming up with a business idea, following through with it, AND providing all of the math problems that led them to their entertaining and a good subversive way of getting some math instruction in.

I found my son trying to do the math in his head before I got to the explanations in the book, which was great.

There are parts of the story where the narrator wonders aloud about the effects of bigot
...more
Abigail Larsen
If you're in search of a light, humorous read (with a little academic value thrown in) for that upcoming fishing trip with the kids, look no further than The Toothpaste Millionaire. Rufus, a sixth-grader with an unusually keen entrepreneurial bent, and his matter-of-fact friend Kate (from whose perspective this story unfolds) team up to invent a new, better, and cheaper toothpaste. The creation process begins with an average kitchen and empty baby food jars. Rufus and Kate must not only develop ...more
Jessica
Jean Merrill passed away last year (2012) and there was a thread on MetaFilter where people reminisced about how much her books had meant to them, and now I've finally gotten around to reading a couple of them. Of the two I read, The Toothpaste Millionaire is written for a somewhat younger audience than The Pushcart War, but both were very smart and focused on challenging notions about race, class, and the ability of children and underdogs to make real change.

In The Toothpaste Millionaire, our y
...more
Bushra
"The Toothpaste Millionaire" is a book about a boy named Rufus and how his friend named Kate MacKinstrey and how she helps him create a business of toothpaste. Just by the title of the book you might know by now that he grew up to be a millionaire. Rufus was a really brave boy to create a business with his friend. He grows up to be a very rich millionaire. He creates this business when he goes to the store and finds out that the toothpaste is worth the type of amount of money that wouldn't be as ...more
Amy C
I loved this book as a kid. It made me want to become a kid entrepreneur and fire up a printing press in the garage. It had been such a long time since I read it as a kid that I began to doubt that I had actually read it. But I always had the story in the back of my head. I hadn't seen or heard anything about it since the 70s. Then I found an old copy in a thrift store last year for a buck. Joy! I brought it home and read it to my son. He loves it! I don't know if the newer version (currently in ...more
Michelle
We read this for our economics class, and the boys loved it. This book was published in 1972, so there are some dated ideas, and of course, even a little 70's political propoganda thrown in for good measure. I loved the use of math throughout the book, and I loved Rufus and Kate. Such great protagonists! They were smart, and independent, and wonderfully ethical. They worked hard and valued what others had to offer. Most of the characters had a strong work ethic and the most of the adults played ...more
Pumpkin66
This book is really good. It has amazing toothpaste tubes that only costs a few cents. They are also filled with toothpaste which the main character makes. Simply the whole book is really good.
Vivian
This excellent little gem on entrepreneurship (now there's a big word for you) can be read in a day -- as proved by my fifteen year old daughter who read (and loved) it this week! I read this years ago and was delighted when she picked it up on her own. I think it should be a "must read" for all kids. Our library owns it and it is hardly ever borrowed.

Not only is it a little treatise on free enterprise, but it also addresses racism -- a white girl moves into a predominantly black neighborhood --
...more
Aleisha
This book was a delight, delight, delight. It was a pleasure to read--filled with subtle commentary on race and adversity, with the themes being ultimately about friendship and dreams. Gosh, if you put your mind to it, you can do anything!
Mary Mckelvin
The was well written and it let me know you can be a entrepreneur at any age. Rufus main goal wasn't to be a millionaire but to help the people but afford toothpaste. I love the fact thar is best friend and business partner was a girl named Kate who happened to be white and he was black. Kate had a hard time making friends with other African Americans but Rufus didn't see it as a problem. The time period for this book was in the 1960s so you can understand the time. The author also used real mat ...more
Clara Gee
THIS BOOK IS SO COOL! I love this book. My mom homeschools me and told me to read this book. I was like okay. So I read the chapters I was told to read but didn't. want to stop because by that time I was loving the book. So I got my mom to let me read it some more and fineness it that very morning. I read it a few more times after that but then our copy disappeared. I searched in vain for it but couldn't find it. When I was looking in my older brother 's room with my mom for books to read when I ...more
Rebekah
I found this a pretty entertaining story demonstrating what kids are capable of. My students really liked the idea of being a millionaire, even though the main character apparently didn't haha. For me, the problem solving is part of what made the story fun, although I can see how it could be a stumbling block for some students. There is a group of somewhat confusing chapters towards the end where the narrator explains a run in with "Organized Crime" and some legal issues through her pretend movi ...more
Amber
May 25, 2014 Amber rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elizabeth
Recommended to Amber by: Jessica
Shelves: children-s-books
Really really loved this book. Perfect for a read aloud for early elementary or for strong readers to read on their own. Super fun plot line.
Caleb Mckenzie
I liked it. It's about this kid who didn't think about becoming a millionaire, but he made toothpaste and then he became a millionaire.
Charlotte
I love this book. I think it's amazing to watch the progression and the ability and the process as the toothpaste adventure goes.
Christina
Wesley says, "This book was really good, but they did some 7th grade math problems that I didn't know."
Sarah
This is an excellent book for youth book clubs.
Everyone in our group loved it and gave it two thumbs up.
Heather
Great 3rd/4th grade read with an entrepreneurial/math bent. Features some African American characters.
Kenzie
This was a good book. Not one of my favorites but still good. I wonder if I could do something like that...
Layto
This is a very good book. Way better then it sounds, it is also very educational. I highly recommend it.
Whitney Boatright
Great book :-) showed readers how even kids can do extraordinary things and come up with ideas :-)
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“My father always says one thing leads to another. It certainly does. I started out to buy a friend a birthday present, and I end up trying to get a factory to go with it....” 7 likes
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