Storytime Sunday – Imani’s Lemonade Stand

by, Lois Ruskai Melina

Imani’s mama waved a magazine in front of her face. It made a little breeze.

“It’s a hot day,” mama said. “Let’s make lemonade with the lemons that Ollie and Ellie’s mama gave us.”

Ollie and Ellie were Imani’s friends who lived down the block. They had a lemon tree in their yard.

Mama cut the lemons in half, and Imani put each half on the lemon juicer. She thought graphics-fruit-429993the lemon looked like a bright yellow hat on the juicer. Mama helped her turn the lemon back and forth until all the juice was squeezed out. Mama poured the lemon juice into a big pitcher.

When they had squeezed all the lemons, mama added water and a little sugar to the pitcher. Mama let Imani taste the lemonade.

“This is how Ellie and Ollie’s mama told me to make it. You tell me if it’s sweet enough,” mama said.

“I like it,” Imani said, even though it made her checks suck in.

lemonade (2)“When I was your age,” mama said, “I had a lemonade stand in front of our building.”

“I want to do that,” Imani said.

Mama put a table and two chairs on the sidewalk in the shade of a big oak tree. She helped Imani make a sign that said, “Lemonade, 25 cents.” Mama put the pitcher of lemonade and some paper cups on the table.

Then they sat and waited for customers

Mr. José came by walking his dog Duke.

“I’m taking Duke to the dog park at the end of the street,” he said. animated-dog-image-0421

“Would you like some lemonade, Mr. José?” Imani asked.

“I would, but I only have $20 bill. Do you have change?”

“No,” said Imani, feeling sad.

“Can I sing a song for you instead?” Mr. José said.

Imani looked at mama.

“What a good idea,” mama said.

“This is a song I learned when I was a boy in Costa Rica. It’s about how the mama chicken takes care of her little ones.”

lemonade3 (2)While Mama helped Imani pour lemonade into a paper cup, Mr. José sang the song:

Los pollitos dicen,
pío, pío, pío
cuando tienen hambre
cuando tienen frío

Mr. José made gestures when he sang so Imani knew the song was about chicks when they were hungry and cold.

When he finished the song, Imani handed the lemonade to Mr. José. He drank it in one gulp.

“That’s the best lemonade I’ve ever had,” he said.

Imani felt happy that Mr. José liked the lemonade.

Sam walked by with his dog, Buster.

“I wish I had some money for your lemonade,” Sam said.

“You can have some anyway,” mama said.

Sam drank his lemonade in one long swallow, too.

grass“Let me show you how to whistle with a piece of grass,” Sam said. “My grandpa showed me how.”

He picked a long blade of grass from the lawn and held it the long way between his thumbs. Then he blew into the space his thumbs made. The grass made a high shriek.

“Can I try?” Imani said.

Sam showed her how to hold the grass. She blew hard between her thumbs, but no sound came out. Imani looked down at the sidewalk. She was sad.

“I had to practice a lot before I could do it,” Sam said. “Keep trying.”

Ellie and Ollie walked by with their dog Mack.

“I don’t have a quarter,” Ollie said, “but I can tell you a knock-knock joke.”


“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Orange who?”

“Orange you glad we gave you those lemons?”

Mama and Imani and Ellie laughed. Ollie laughed, too.

More neighbors walked by on their way to or from the dog park. Soon all the lemonade was gone.

“Mama, those dogs are going to be thirsty when they are done running at the dog park. Can we have a water stand for dogs?” Imani asked.

“That’s a good idea.”

Mama filled up some empty milk cartons with water. “Get a plastic bowl from the cabinet,” she said to Imani.

They took the water and the bowl to the sidewalk.

Mama helped Imani make a sign that said:

“Free water for dogs.”

“But we have to go inside, now,” mama said. “I have work to do. I can’t just sit in the shade all day.”

From her bedroom window, Imani watched neighbors come by with their dogs and stop to let their dogs drink.


“Can I put water out for the neighbor dogs every day?” Imani asked mama when it was time for bed.

Mama said she could.


What was Mr Jose’s song about? Here it is in English; The chicks say, twit, twit, twit, when they are hungry, when they are cold. 

About the Author

Lois Ruskai Melina mostly writes stories and essays for adults, but she was inspired to write this story when her grandchildren moved into a house with a lemon tree. Lois lives in Portland, Oregon, where she enjoys rowing on the Willamette River and supporting the National Women’s Soccer League team, the Portland Thorns.
Check out her website.

Want to make your own homemade lemonade? Check out this video!

Categories: Stories

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