________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 3 . . . . September 19, 2014


Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth's Wonder Kitchen. (Great Ideas Series).

Monica Kulling. Illustrated by David Parkins.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-380-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77049-381-0 (ebook).

Subject Headings:
Gilbreth, Lillian Moller, 1878-1972-Juvenile literature.
Women industrial engineers-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-5 / Ages 6-10.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

**** /4



Lillian and Frank were "efficiency experts." They showed factory workers how to get the most done in the least amount of time. Frank thought there was one best way to do every job. Lillian thought people did their best when their workplace was comfortable and they enjoyed what they were doing. Lillian was not only an industrial engineer but a psychologist too.

The Gilbreths used a new invention-the motion picture-to film a worker on the job. Then they studied the film to see if the worker was making unnecessary movements. They discovered that cutting out wasteful actions was the way to get more done and be less tired.

Lillian and Frank were efficient at home as well, running their house on the "Gilbreth System." Charts listed each child's "work": brushing their teeth, taking a bath, or making a bed. When the children completed a task, they placed a tick mark on the chart.

Lillian Gilbreth was born into a privileged life-style in 1878 but had aspirations from a young age to be educated and have a life of adventure and challenge. Undoubtedly she achieved all three goals. While she and her husband are best known in popular culture because of the books Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes (later made into movies), there is much more to know.

internal art      Lillian and her husband, Frank, were prolific both in the number of ideas their fertile minds conjured up as well as in the number of children they produced! As "efficiency experts", they set up their own business offering advice to companies on how to maximize production by streamlining procedures. When Frank died unexpectedly, Lillian, with eleven mouths to feed (one of the "dozen" died young), had no time to grieve. Not only did she work for the famous Macy Company streamlining their cash room procedures, but she applied her talents to improving the functionality of kitchens on behalf of the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company, interviewing four thousand women in the process. Using her skills as an industrial engineer, psychologist, author, professor and inventor, she rose to fame in her field. She was the first woman nominated to the National Academy of Engineering and the first woman psychologist to have a postage stamp issued in her honour.

      Spic-and-Span! is the sixth volume in Tundra's "Great Ideas" series, and true to its established formula, it provides an introduction to the achievements of a lesser known inventor presented with caprice, atmosphere and great illustrations. Monica Kulling has once again created a book that entices and engages right from the start, giving readers a picture of Lillian Gilbreth's scientific achievements and as a warm, real person. Readers' appetites are whetted to read further about this woman at once so down to earth and yet so visionary.

      Part of the success of this series is related to the selection of imaginative and capable artists to work with the author. In this case, David Parkins, the well-known illustrator of over fifty children's books, charms readers with pen and ink drawings combined with water colour. The plentiful illustrations, with their expressive figures and sense of proportion, are full of life and vigor. They enrich and enhance the text with their vibrancy and detail. It is such a pleasure to pore over them.

      A bibliography or "sources of inspiration" list is included on the colophon page, which is a welcome addition, but it is in such small print one almost misses it! Like all the other titles in the series, Spic-and-Span! is an excellent addition to school, public and personal libraries and a great read for those aged six to ten.

Highly Recommended.

Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian living in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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