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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

What do you get when you put twelve lively kids together with a father -- a famous efficiency expert -- who believes families can run like factories, and a mother who is his partner in everything except discipline? You get a hilarious tale of growing up that has made generations of kids and adults alike laugh along with the Gilbreths in Cheaper by the Dozen. Translated into more than fifty-three languages and made into a classic film starring Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, Cheaper by the Dozen is a delightfully enduring story of family life at the turn of the 20th century.…

Cheaper by the Dozen

by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

Overall Book Review:

Cheaper by the Dozen is the hilarious true story of the Gilbreth family — Frank, Lillian and their twelve rambunctious children! Composed by two of the Gilbreth siblings, the tale has a familiar and informal tone as it details the antics of the large family during the early 1900s. Father Frank is a loving, yet temperamental man and he strives to run his family like a well-oiled machine. While several of his ideas, and the children’s ensuing reactions were wildly funny, other concepts were quite entertaining and clever! Readers will journey to the Gilbreth’s home in New Jersey, to idyllic summers in Nantucket and to grand adventures in California. The book’s message of love and the importance of family were particularly appealing. It was bittersweet to finish the last page and bid the Gilbreth family farewell. 

It’s important to note that Cheaper by the Dozen is nothing like the recent Steve Martin movie with the same name. This is a beloved classic worth sharing!

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: 19 religious exclamations, 10 mild obscenities, 3 religious profanities, 3 anatomical terms. A few racial terms (“Eskimo”) are used. These terms were commonly used during the time period.

Violence/Gore:  It is implied that the children are spanked.

Sex/Nudity:  A few sexual references involving a slight allusion to prostitution and a harem; a representative from a birth control movement appears in one chapter.  

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of family member, war, illness, mention of the birth control movement.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

A character smokes; characters notice empty whiskey bottles while picnicking; children are given ether before their tonsils are removed. 

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.