“Rufus was watching a cloud shaped like a cushion turn into a cat when the idea first came to him. ‘I’m not going to have a lemonade stand this summer,’ he said. ‘I’m going to have a story stand!’ ”
Rufus runs off “to gather pencils and paper and markers,” after which an eight-panel double-page spread shows him going through the sequence of setting up a table and chair for his enterprise, carefully decorating both the table and himself. As unlikely as it may seem, when friends Millie and Walter come by and invite Rufus to go swimming with them, Rufus declines, as he has “a story stand to run.” He tells these friends that their price for a story will be a seashell from the beach. Rufus (who is Caucasian) creates a story specifically for his sister and for each of several friends of differing genders, ages, and skin tones; “payments” vary. Each simple story “by Rufus” spans two to four pages, with hand printing and colorful art. The text about Rufus is in black typeface, with artwork similar to that attributed to Rufus. The entire book—including the endpapers—is a tribute to literacy. It may appeal to bibliophiles, but its lack of action beyond reading, writing, and walking is unlikely to create any converts.
The idea is original and appealing, but the execution is less than inspiring. (Picture book. 4-7)