(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Although originally written for adults, Cheaper by the Dozen promises to entertain young adult readers. This book, based on the authors’ childhood diaries, was translated into many languages and became a cinema box-office hit. Its charm and appeal lies in the authors’ ability to capture deftly the essence of what it was like to grow up in a large family. Even though few people might have been reared in circumstances as exceptional as those experienced by the Gilbreth children, there is much with which the young adult reader can identify. Brothers tease, sisters torment, children grouse about chores that they would rather not do, and all cringe when “Dad” proudly calls attention to his dozen offspring. The authors’ objectivity in telling the story keeps it moving at a page-turning pace.

The reader will find an account in which parents are praised for the philosophy of life that they imparted to their offspring to be a rarity. Reading about how these values were cleverly taught to the Gilbreths is both comic and inspiring. Rare, too, is the biography in which children good-naturedly present a seemingly unbiased view of family life—faults and merits alike. The biography’s format, that of a fast-paced novel, draws the reader into vicariously experiencing life in the Gilbreth household. The beauty of this book is that the authors show children as they really are. These brothers and sisters were no more angels—despite their regimented life—than any other...

(The entire section is 608 words.)