Cheaper by the Dozen

by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Unconditional Recommendation: A hilarious and endearing collection of stories about efficiency experts, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, and their growing household of twelve children.

Age: All Ages
Series: Stand Alone
Pages: 237
Published: 1948

Genre: Memoir, Comedy

This blog is about good fiction but some nonfiction books are worth making an exception such as this. Plus if you didn’t know any better you’d think these stories were made up because their adventures are so ridiculous! Each chapter is a peek into the lives of a huge household led by their fearless and good-natured Dad, Mr. Gilbreth. This book is truly one for all ages and best enjoyed with your own family. The Steve Martin movie by the same name is nothing like this book and though the movie is enjoyable, this book is far better!

Summary from the Publisher

Translated into more than fifty languages, Cheaper by the Dozen is the unforgettable story of the Gilbreth clan as told by two of its members. In this endearing, amusing memoir, siblings Frank Jr. and Ernestine capture the hilarity and heart of growing up in an oversized family.
Mother and Dad are world-renowned efficiency experts, helping factories fine-tune their assembly lines for maximum output at minimum cost. At home, the Gilbreths themselves have cranked out twelve kids, and Dad is out to prove that efficiency principles can apply to family as well as the workplace. The heartwarming and comic stories of the jumbo-size Gilbreth clan have delighted generations of readers, and will keep you and yours laughing for years.

An Enduring Theme

If you haven’t already guessed it, this book is all about family, and an incredible family at that! It’s intriguing and delightful to read how a family that large operated and the ways Mr. Gilbreth surprisingly succeeded or hilariously failed at parenting.

Memorable Characters

I love Mr. Gilbreth! I just want to wrap my arms around his big belly in a hug. I’ve never met anyone like him and he’s definitely worth knowing. If he showed up at a party you’d immediately tell your friends, “Come with me. You have to meet Mr. Gilbreth!” His antics delight and entertain and you’ll see he was truly at the helm of the family—their lives and their characters were all because of his presence in their lives. He overflowed with passion for learning, teaching, and for having a large family. He lived life to the fullest—as an efficiency expert, he was experienced in utilizing every minute! His wife, Lillian, is equally amazing but with less pomp and circumstance than her husband. She is the picture of composure and graciously acquiesces as her husband does things his way—even if it means painting lessons on the walls or trying to teach the new baby how to swim! The children are clever and frequently beat Mr. Gilbreth at his own games and he either laughs with them or scrambles to maintain his dignity (in such a way that fools no one). This book isn’t about plot, but character. First and foremost, it’s about Mr. Gilbreth’s life, then his wife Lillian’s, then his children’s.

A Lasting Experience

Due to their humor and heart, these stories linger and bring a smile to your face whenever you bring them to mind. They become cherished like your own fond memories that you laugh about with your family year after year.

A Satisfying Ending

This ending will squeeze your heart and bring the entire book into perspective. It shows how much Mr. Gilbreth loved his family and how all his planning and efficiency training had a bigger purpose in mind: caring for his family and especially his wife. It’s wonderful. Please enjoy!

Where to Find this Book: Amazon* or your local library!

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