Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Review: Spic-and-Span! Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen

Publish July 10, 2014

In her Great Ideas series, Monica Kulling explores the accomplishments of popular and less well-known remarkable inventors. With each book, she tells an engaging story about her subject’s life, inspirations, and inventions. In the sixth book, Kulling gives us Lillian Gilbreth—industrial engineer and psychologist. In the early 1900s, Gilbreth and her husband, Frank, ran a consulting company specializing in the new field of time management, while also raising 11 children under these same principles. They filmed workers at their jobs, singled out unnecessary movements and streamlined tasks so that workers could get more done with less effort. Their efficiency at home became very important when Frank died suddenly and Gilbreth was left to carry on the business, despite the reluctance of many companies to hire a female industrial engineer. Kulling focuses on Gilbreth’s notable designs for the home. Interviewing 4,000 women, Gilbreth came up with efficient and comfortable kitchens—a refreshing change from the typical Victorian arrangement. Kulling describes how Gilbreth, with her understanding of household operations, invented other useful domestic items, such as the electric mixer, pedal-operated garbage can and ergonomic desk. The lively illustrations by David Parkins help to tell the story and offer illuminating details, from the antiquated cash-room at Macy’s department store to the look of a modern 1920s kitchen. Spic-and-Span! is a thought-provoking and entertaining introduction to a fascinating inventor. Spic and SpanSpic-and-Span! Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen (Great Ideas series) written by Monica Kulling illustrated by David Parkins Tundra Books, August 2014 unpaginated Ages 7 to 10             Gillian O'Rielly Editor of Canadian Children’s Book News, Gillian O’Reilly is a long-time fan of Lillian Gilbreth. Logo-NoType The National Reading Campaign publishes children’s book reviews  under a Creative Commons License. This review is entirely free to reproduce and republish online and in print. Credit must be given to the reviewer and the National Reading Campaign. Reviews can be edited for brevity only. Contact Us for more information.