Monday, August 14, 2017

Nostalgia Review: Cheaper By the Dozen

The Ninja Librarian seems to be suffering a bit from summer distraction, and somehow Monday came and went without a post. This one will have to do for Monday and Wednesday, because we also have been falling behind in our reading. Not that the book needs a review, particularly, but it was kind of fun.
Title: Cheaper By the Dozen
Author: Frank Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey; read by Dana Ivey
Publisher: Random House Listening Library, 1994; originally by Thomas Y. Crowell, 1948 (237 pages). 
I liked the 1948 cover, so here it is: 
Source:Library digital resources

Publisher's Summary (this is the blurb in the library catalog for the audio edition):No growing pains have ever been more hilarious than those suffered loudly by the riotous Gilbreth clan. First, there are a dozen red-haired, freckle-faced kids to contend with. Then there's Dad, a famous efficiency expert who believes a family can be run just like a factory. And there's Mother, his partner in everything except discipline. How they all survive such escapades as forgetting Frank, Jr., in a roadside restaurant or going on a first date with Dad in the backseat or having their tonsils removed en masse will keep you in stitches. You can be sure they're not only cheaper, they're funnier by the dozen. 

My Review: 

I  first read this book when I was a kid, finding that being one of 3 was quite enough, thank you. I remember it being very funny, as well as a bit of "wow, it was hard being a kid back then" (the book was first published in 1948, but the story tracks the family from the parents' marriage in 1904 until 1924, which takes us through the births of all 12 children. I stumbled on it a couple of weeks ago while looking for something to listen to, and remembered enjoying it so thought I'd give it a listen.

My reaction now is that the book still reads well, and if my amusement is now somewhat moderated by the feeling that Dad was a bit over-controlling (it would be too much to say he was a bully, because his intentions were always good, I think), it's still pretty funny. The narration by Ms. Ivey helped a lot with this, as she captured blustery Dad, eye-rolling teens (you can hear the eye-rolls, and it's pretty clear that sort of reaction to the parents goes back a long, long way), and mischievous children well.

I'm not sure if this book gives a very good look at how normal people lived in the 19-teens and 20s, but it certainly paints a good picture of one family, as well as being a loving biography of Frank Gilbreth Sr. by two of his children who obviously loved him, even while not being blind to his faults.

My Recommendation:
Definitely worth reading on a summer's day. Get the book or the audio, and prepare for some over-the-top fun (I do suspect the authors of stretching the truth a bit here and there). If nothing else, it gives one an appreciation of smaller families. The logistics of 12 children would be overwhelming today!

FTC Disclosure: I checked Cheaper By the Dozen out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  


  1. Replies
    1. :D Certainly not a necessary read. But in many ways as soothing as chicken soup for a tired brain.

  2. I remember reading this book in 5th grade and thinking it was funny. I know I saw a movie version too. Glad to hear it was still enjoyable as an adult. Thanks for sharing. :)

  3. I remember watching the movie a lot when I was little...the 1950 version. Have seen the Steve Martin version too, but haven't read the book yet. I may have to look for it.

  4. I haven't seen either movie, but I have trouble imagining Steve Martin pulling off a believable Dad as he is in the book.

    1. :-D Clifton Webb's version is supposed to be closer to the book.


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