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The Toothpaste Millionaire

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,881 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Sixth-grader Rufus Mayflower doesn't set out to become a millionaire. He just wants to save on toothpaste. Betting he can make a gallon of his own for the same price as one tube from the store, Rufus develops a step-by-step production plan with help from his good friend Kate MacKinstrey. By the time he reaches the eighth grade, Rufus makes more than a gallon -- he makes a ...more
Paperback, Illustrated, 129 pages
Published September 4th 2006 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published 1972)
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Galaxy its not true but i think at the end of the book or my teacher told me that its like based on a true story but not the same names and not exactly the s…moreits not true but i think at the end of the book or my teacher told me that its like based on a true story but not the same names and not exactly the same but they sold toothpaste andbecame a millionare(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,881 ratings  ·  171 reviews

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Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
How much good can an honest business venture do the world? A venture headed by someone wanting only to provide a necessary commodity to buyers who currently pay way more for it than they should, and to provide it for the absolute minimum profit margin. You won't find many adults interested in running a business for less profit than the market allows, but a kid? You might find a kid like twelve-year-old Rufus Mayflower, with the brains and sincerity to pull it off without his own innocence being ...more
A young Black American boy with the entrepreneurial skills of Madame CJ Walker and the curiosity and ingenuity of George Washington Carver brings his classmates from different backgrounds together to create something better and more cost effective than what already exists in 1960's Cleveland, Ohio.

Inspired by his like minded, industrious grandmother - Rufus Mayflower, a boy outraged by the high cost of toothpaste - designs a product for less than 20% of the cost of existing brands.

To me this sto
Brianna Addington
Oct 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Feb 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Michael Fitzgerald
Wonderful, engaging read.

This 89-page book is probably confusing to those in marketing. The 22 chapters are very brief, but it's not a beginning chapter book. It's middle grade, although some of the topics may be more on the high school level - I think only advanced junior high kids would grasp some of the business concepts.

The voice is absolutely perfect - a sixth grade girl who is very bright (though not exceptionally so), very honest, and not very street-wise. The short paragraphs work reall
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this to my first grader and third grader. Though some of the math concepts were over their heads, others were adaptable to their level. Like many kids, my kids have wanted to "start a business." This book fleshed out some of the obstacles that might be encountered in setting up one's own business... as well as the problem-solving involved to move past those obstacles. ...more
Nancy Kotkin
Two sixth-grade friends start a toothpaste business. Business concepts, as well as math, are incorporated into the story.

But some very important math is left out of the book. To earn "a little over $2 million" of profits in one year at the rate of one cent per tube of toothpaste, Rufus and his friends would have had to manufacture and sell more than 3,500 tubes of toothpaste each week. This is supposed to be realistic fiction and that production rate doesn't seem possible to me. At the start, Ru
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tgtb-school
I brought it home from the library but my 8 yr old didn't want to read it because she said the title didn't sound interesting. I said I would start to read the story out loud and if she didn't want to continue I would read it to myself. By the end of chapter one she was hooked and kept saying "don't read ahead!" It was fascinating, believable, funny, great read aloud.

I loved that it had both black and white children, that it showed the usefulness of math, that being honest is admirable and can l
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
What an exciting story! Very simply told I think this story would inspire young readers to realize there are lots of possibilities available to them IF they just start putting the effort towards their dream. Being a millionaire is definitely a fantasy but being a success shouldn't be. ...more
Melanie Dulaney
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rufus is the idea man and Kate is his friend who manages the production aspect of making toothpaste and together they put out enough toothpaste to put $1,000,000 in the bank. Along the way, a strong friendship is formed between two unlikely candidates: white, female Kate and black, male Rufus. Solid, entertaining read for those in grades 3-6, although the 3rd grade readers will need to stretch to handle the vocabulary, but its relatively short length will not intimidate any in the target age gro ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Upset by the high cost of toothpaste, Rufus Mayflower, an enterprising sixth grader, decides to start making his own. Once consumers realize he is able to make a gallon of his homemade toothpaste for the cost of a single tube at the supermarket, business really takes off. As the demand for Rufus's toothpaste increases, he encounters a number of challenges, all of which he is able to solve with perseverance and ingenuity. The story is narrated by Rufus's friend, Kate, who, along with her classmat ...more
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My edition the picture-book sized, 89 pp, Bank Street/HMH, 1972. Nice color illustrations, but still a true juvenile novel despite the odd shape. I'm reading it because the author's The Pushcart War is one of my all-time favorites.
Quick exciting read. I love how the math teacher, Mr. Conti, incorporated real life math from the toothpaste industry into class. I love that most people didn't care about race, but Merrill reminded us that it is relevant to some people. Much of the book i
Melissa McShane
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
Amy Varchetti
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it
A fun story about a boy who becomes a millionaire making toothpaste. I would give it 3.5 stars if I could. I think upper elementary kids will really enjoy it, and also middle grade reluctant readers. It will speak to any kid who has ever dreamed of starting a business and making big money. I really loved it until I got to the end, which I found a little awkward and confusing (one of the characters starts imagining the story as a movie script, and it's a bit confusing discerning what is really ha ...more
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jacqui Ainsworth
Jan 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Angie Libert
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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!
This was one of my late mother-in-law’s favorite books. She was an elementary school teacher and reading consultant, and when we helped box up her personal library, it seemed like every box had a copy of this book – paperbacks and lovely hardcover special editions in various states of use. Despite this, I had never read it, so it seemed like the perfect choice as a summer read-a-loud book with my eleven-year-old. He chose it over several other enticing options because it’s short and it turned ou ...more
Grace Steed
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
I recently re-read this and loved it just as much as when I read it as a child. Toothpaste Millionaire is told from the perspective of Kate Macinstry as she details the period of time during middle school that her friend Rufus creates a plan to become a millionaire by selling toothpaste. Kate is a no-nonsense kind of girl so the story is told in a straightforward, no-nonsense kind of way which I enjoyed. Set in 1960s Ohio, Toothpaste Millionaire covers a wide range of topics including racism, de ...more
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
My mother's been selling all of our old school books and let me go through them to grab any nostalgic favorites. I used to love re-reading this one when I was younger. It was short but dealt with heavier themes (racism, the struggles of the working class, big pharma, and the evils of capitalism) and was one of the only books with platonic girl/boy best friends. All of the characters in this are endearing and the story is fascinatingly political while also being charming and enjoyable. I've been ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The content of the story and the lessons learned are what earned this book four stars. The writing is pretty simplistic. Depending on the reader, that could be a good thing. As a read-aloud, the simple sentence structures forced me to really use voice and inflection to color the text, since the word selections didn't do that themselves. That said, this book is excellent at getting kids to learn about, becoming interested in, and understand concepts of business and economics. It's a great discuss ...more
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I bought this book for one of the kids, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now. It was an ok book. Cute, clean, but nothing special. I’m trying to decide if it’s worth the shelf space. I think it might be a good book for older children who struggle with reading because the sentence structure is simple, but the content would probably be of more interest to a fourth - sixth grader.
Danielle Routh
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this in elementary school, loved it then, and still love it now. Some suspension of disbelief is required, sure (a million-dollar business plus the trials of sixth grade?), but it's a wonderfully engaging book about economics, good ethics, and integration, all of which feel natural to the story rather than shoved in for the sake of education or diversity. I really can't think of anything I dislike about it, except maybe that I wish it were longer. ...more
Chloe Chance
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020-50-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Havebooks Willread
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
We enjoyed this so much--we read it in only two days because when I threatened to stop reading the children prevailed upon me with the ever-cherished "One more chapter! Please! Read just one more chapter."

It really was a delightful story about a young entrepreneur starting a business. What a fun way to see the usefulness of math and the benefits of innovation, creativity, hard work, and teamwork. We really need to pick up a copy for our personal library--we enjoyed it that much.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like this story and I like how it shows that even kids like me and make a huge difference and get rich. I do not like how it talks a little about rasicm in the book and how black and white are different which I HATE. but the rest of the book is good and about a kid who got an idea to make his own 3 cent tooth paste and sold it for 3 cents and got super rich.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book for 4th/5th grade girls and boys. The book shows kids working together to achieve an amazing goal. No difference according to sex or race. Just a win/win book for everyone with positive role models. Just good all around!!!!! And a fun read as well. Cannot wait to do PBL using this book as a model. Highly recommend!
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: money-making
4.75 stars. AMAZING BOOK, you should definitly read if you like Andrew Clements' "Lunch Money" book. It is about and eventual millionare, trying to make toothpaste cheaper by making his own. This is an example of little known authors doing fantastic work. The writing though is OKAY, and it is a little bit confusing plot-wise and logisticly. Again, you should definitly read this book! ...more
Jack O
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is a really good book and there are other books by this author as well, but not about the Toothpaste Millionaire. There is a ton of math in this book. I learned a lot about discrimination from this book. The mafia part was pretty cool. I didn't even know what the mafia was until I read this book. - Jack, age 10 ...more
Benjamin Ellefson
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Every young kid with big dreams of the future needs to read this book! It is the inspiring tale of a smart, hard-working kid who starts his own company making toothpaste and becomes a millionaire in the sixth grade.

I absolutely loved it!

Check out my full review on my blog:
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Does anyone else think that the ending here was terrible? 1 1 Jan 01, 2021 10:33AM  

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