Cheaper by the Dozen
|This article does not cite any sources. (August 2015)|
First edition cover (Thomas Y. Crowell Co.)
|Author||Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey|
|Publisher||Thomas Y. Crowell Co.|
|Followed by||Belles on Their Toes|
The book tells the story of time and motion study and efficiency experts Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, and their twelve children, as they reside in Montclair, New Jersey for many years. The title comes from one of Frank Sr.'s favorite jokes: it often happened that when he and his family were out driving and stopped at a red light, a pedestrian would ask, "Hey, Mister! How come you got so many kids?" Gilbreth would pretend to ponder the question carefully, and then, just as the light turned green, would say, "Well, they come cheaper by the dozen, you know," and drive off.
In real life, the Gilbreths' second eldest child, Mary, died of diphtheria at age five. The book does not explicitly explain the absence of Mary Gilbreth. It was not until the sequel, Belles on Their Toes, was published in 1950 that her death is mentioned in a footnote.
Cheaper by the Dozen (2003) and Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005), starring comedians Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, bear no resemblance to the original book or 1950 film, except that both feature a family with twelve children, though the mother's maiden name is Gilbreth.
Re-reading the book in 2003, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Yardley wrote in The Washington Post, "[I]t is a joy to report that Cheaper by the Dozen still reads remarkably well. ... The prose ... is unadorned and matter of fact, and its organizational structure is a bit difficult to detect, but what matters most is that it is a touching family portrait that also happens to be very, very funny."
- Cheaper by the Dozen, ISBN 0-06-008460-X
- "Gilbreth Bug-Lights" (1991 article by Frank Jr. about their summer home on Nantucket Island)