Cheaper by the Dozen, an outrageously funny comedy, was written by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey. It was originally published by Thomas Y. Crowell Co. in 1948. Later editions are available.

This book was very entertaining. It kept me laughing. I think Cheaper by the Dozen will keep you laughing. The book was about real-life couple Frank and Lillian Gilbreth who agreed from the very start of their marriage that they wanted to have twelve children–six boys and six girls. They accomplished just that. After the twelfth child was born, they knew they were finished having children. Thus began the adventure.

Frank Gilbreth, the father, was the primary character in the book. He endeavored to instruct his children in various subjects and in numerous creative ways. He painted the Morse Code and the Solar System on the walls, placed language records in the bathrooms and established the Family Council. He ran the house with efficiency. He was always trying to cut the time required to complete any and every task. His wife Lillian went along with the program and enjoyed her huge household. (Note:  Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, pioneers in motion study, were scientists who studied the habits of workers in order to help them increase their output and do their jobs more easily.)

The book is set during the first part of the twentieth century. One summer when mechanical pencils first came out, Frank’s company was going to make a movie for publicity. Frank had all his kids filmed in the movie. They were shown burying a large coffin of regular pencils showing that they were obsolete. The children loaded the coffin full of pencils and buried it in the sand on the beach. (The family spent their summers in Nantucket.) Another take was needed, so they had to repeat the process. Afterwards, Frank didn’t want to waste all those good pencils, so he had the children dig the coffin out of the sand a third time! By then the children never wanted to see another pencil as long as they lived.

A few years later, Frank turned out to be very protective of his oldest daughters who were interested in dating. When his oldest daughter asked him if she could go to a dance with a boy, Frank said it would be fine because he was free that night. She asked him what he was free for and he said to chaperone her and her date! From that moment on, either he was the appointed chaperone or one of her brothers was. Her reaction was very comical.

What impressed me the most about this story was the unity within the family. The mother and father were totally devoted to teaching and training their children.  Frank also wove much humor and adventure into life’s daily experiences. The book emphasized the fun of family life. The children knew they were loved and cared for and they knew their boundaries. The children were very well educated.

It is a heartwarming story that will be enjoyed by young and old alike. The age this book seems to be most geared for is ten and above. FYI:  there is a script available based on the book. I’ve directed the play three times and all the actors said they had so much fun doing it.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

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