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Belles on Their Toes (Cheaper by the Dozen #2)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  4,833 Ratings  ·  249 Reviews
Life is very different now in the rambling Gilbreth house.When the youngest was two and the oldest eighteen, Dad died and Mother bravely took over his business. Now, to keep the family together, everyone has to pitch in and pinch pennies. The resourceful clan rises to every crisis with a marvelous sense of fun -- whether it's battling chicken pox, giving the boot to an unw ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published December 16th 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 1950)
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Jenna Excitement! I loved the first book and couldn't wait to read this one!
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldTrapping the Butterfly by Debra ParmleyBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn WaughThe Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha ChristieThe Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
I am '20s, hear me roar!
31st out of 262 books — 131 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 18, 2015 JuliaOrlando rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 02, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
This is possibly more dated than the Sue Barton books - but what a barrel of laughs. Not consistently, which is this book's biggest fault, but the bathing suits! The smoking! Martha's budgeting! Ernestine's obnoxious boyfriend! The bathtub trick! Dr. Bob! Jane's high school training!

The novel is dated because of things I'd like to think no longer exist: the widow who is certainly capable of continuing her job after her husband's death, but finds employment opportunities to be scarcer now that sh
Not as enjoyable as Cheaper by the Dozen but still like-able.

BELLES, while episodic just like DOZEN, seems a bit more scattered in presentation.

Plus, the back cover of BELLES says "fiction" in the top left corner and I don't know what's up with that. I assumed this was another "memoir" or at the very least, "creative non-fiction." The back cover of DOZEN says "memoir" in the top left. (The labeling doesn't affect my star rating)

Rebecca Foster
This sequel isn’t quite as charming as Cheaper by the Dozen, but I still enjoyed reading about the continued adventures of the Gilbreth clan.

Matriarch Lillian was such a formidable woman, not at all diminished by widowhood: carrying on Frank’s legacy, she set up her own motion study school in her home, travelled all over the world to give lectures, taught in the management department at Purdue, received a dozen honorary doctorates, and still took an active part in the lives of her twelve childre
Nov 19, 2013 Deborah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
Wonderful. I think I enjoyed this even a little more than Cheaper by the Dozen. So many wonderful stories from the life of this quite uplifting family.
May 31, 2015 Joan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of Cheaper by the Dozen
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May 25, 2012 Melinda rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
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Amanda Mae
Can't read Cheaper by the Dozen without following up with Belles on Their Toes. This book follows the Gilbreth family after their father's death, and is the story of their mother continuing to raise her children, and becoming a prominent figure in her own right. Love these stories of the older kids as they deal with beaux and changing fashions, and managing life without their beloved father, and watching their mother become the modern woman they knew she was. It's truly a gift to read this.
Apr 30, 2011 Kelsey rated it it was amazing
I completely love the Gilbreth family! This unique home with a dozen—biological I might add—siblings is pure comedy and awe-inspiring! The mother is amazing for all that she did in keeping her family together. What's more, she made good on the goal she'd set with her husband in seeing all 11 children (1 child died in infancy) graduate from college. The internal structures instituted by the father prepared the children to run themselves while mother was on the road or working. None of it could ha ...more
Sep 26, 2015 Suki rated it really liked it
Ashtray Christmas--the best chapter. Laughed until I cried!

I enjoyed Cheaper by the Dozen, but I'm so glad that my round robin first reader included Belles on Their Toes in the package. Reading both back to back gave me a great perspective first on the father and then on the mother. I enjoyed Belles a bit more perhaps because I understood Mother better.
Oct 27, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
The prequel to this book, Cheaper by the Dozen, is also a favorite of mine, and it gives a great tribute to the father of this large family. Belles on Their Toes focuses more on the mother of the family, after the authors' dad dies. It is a funny, heartwarming book about raising a big, spirited family in the early 20th century.
Lyssrose Farver
Sep 08, 2007 Lyssrose Farver rated it really liked it
I've always loved the book, Cheaper By the Dozen, but I didn't know there was a sequel until I ran across the movie version on TCM in 2004. Now I wish I had known about it before, as this book picked up right where CBtD left off, and continues the story of the Gilbreth family after their father dies.
Mar 23, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
Quick read. Entertaining.
Oct 08, 2015 Linda rated it it was amazing
A follow up book to Cheaper by the Dozen and of course, it is wonderful!! Nice stories about how the family worked together to stay together after their father's death and loss of his income.

Highly recommended for a nice light read!!
Jonathan-David Jackson
I got about halfway through his book. It's okay, but not nearly as good as Cheaper by the Dozen.
Dec 26, 2014 Kristy rated it really liked it
A sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen, this one is a humorous but awe-inspiring study of the mother of the Gilbreth family. Just as good as or better than the first.
Amy C.
Jul 09, 2015 Amy C. rated it really liked it
Move over, Ma Ingalls. Lillian Gilbreth is my new mom-heroine. Warm, enjoyable stories of a fascinating family.
Jul 26, 2016 Jenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read the first book in this duo, "Cheaper by the Dozen," in November, when I got it for my birthday. I had asked for the book because I had really enjoyed the "Cheaper by the Dozen" movies starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Belles on their Toes" by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, are totally different from the movies with Martin and Hunt but I still loved both the books and the movies. This book and it's predecessor are those kind of books we ...more
Jun 13, 2015 Holly rated it really liked it
This is the sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen. The first book ended when the larger than life dad died when the youngest child was two years old. This book picks up right there, the dad is suddenly gone, and the mom, together with the oldest children, make choices how the family will survive. They have family and friends who offer to adopt a few of the kids, but no one wants that. She takes over her husband's motion study business, reaches out to his clients, domestic and international, many of who ...more
Jul 13, 2011 Megan rated it liked it

My mother grew up in a very large family. My grandparents had nine children, two boys and seven girls, and adopted another girl late in life. My mother was number seven of the ten. When we were growing up, my sister and I were fascinated by the stories she told about growing up in a big family with so many kids. And my mom, who read to us a lot, read us the stories of the Gilbreth family -- a husband and wife engineering team who had a dozen children, six boys and six girls. Two of the children
Nov 06, 2011 Tamhack rated it liked it
This book is the sequel to the Cheaper by The Dozen. After the father dies, the mother tries to take over where he left off and all the children try to help her keep the family together. She was determined to support her family and give them a chance to go to college and show that she could do just as well as her husband when women were not in the work force.
Many humorous stories about the family.
I liked how the family stuck together and watched over each other. Even though the mother was away
I think I loved this one even more than the first (which I also really enjoyed). The story-telling in this one felt a little more linear than the previous book, which jumped around a lot. It also seemed like the kids' distinct personalities were fleshed out a bit more in this one. Many of the stories are downright hilarious (some of it is so funny that it's almost hard to believe), and I love how the siblings interacted with each other. They really remind me of a lot of big families I know. It's ...more
Drew Graham
Jun 16, 2015 Drew Graham rated it really liked it
Shelves: me
(Maybe 3.5, rounded up this time.)

After the death of the beloved and sometimes maddeningly genius head of the family, engineer and widow Lillian Gilbreth and her eleven children must pick up the pieces and decide if they're going to farm themselves out to generous relatives or friends, or if they can figure out a way to keep the family business and stay together. Primarily through the efforts of the three oldest girls and the oldest boy, Lillian and the kids decide to try to make it work, using
Jan 15, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
This companion memoir to the classic “Cheaper By the Dozen,” also written by Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, continues the story of the iconic Gilbreth family. With eleven children (one daughter, Mary, having died of diphtheria in 1912), chaos and laughter is sure to abound. Following the death of their father, Frank, things have certainly changed for the Gilbreth household, and although times are difficult and the challenges of keeping the family together are daunting, the Gilb ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I read Cheaper by the Dozen decades ago, and it stuck with me; the humor, and the deeply moving sadness at the end. I recently read to it to my nine-year-old son, who loved it (we watched the 1950 movie of the book immediately after; for his own sake, we are not watching the trashy and completely unrelated Steve Martin movie of the same name).

He wants to move on to the sequel, and so did I. Fortunately our library was able to obtain a copy. Just to be safe, I decided to read it through before de
Jan 28, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story continues of Cheaper by the Dozen, after Mr. Gilbreth passes away. What a delightful father he was and taught his children how to make life fun and to have wonderful adventures. Mom Gilbreth was an amazing woman. Awesome Mom, business woman, took what she and her husband developed, and made it grow and blossom. My mother read both these books to us as small children as they were favorites of her own. I now remember why she loved them so much. I too really love them, and knowing that th ...more
Aug 12, 2015 McKenna rated it liked it
While Cheaper by the Dozen was dominated by the authors' larger-than-life father, its sequel honors the children's quiet, resourceful, refined, and brilliant mother. After her husband's death, Lillian Gilbreth ran their shared consulting business alone, lectured and taught at universities, and eventually became the world's first true industrial/organizational psychologist. However, despite her busy schedule and many academic accomplishments, it is perhaps more remarkable how she balanced her rol ...more
Oct 26, 2012 Liz rated it it was amazing
This story is primarily about Mrs. Gilbreth. She is my hero. The face of modern feminism says women can do it all, and often they push this at the expense of being a mother, running a home, and putting family first. Mrs. Gilbreth was a role model for all women, being a world renown motion study scientist without sacrificing being a successful loving mother of 11 children, all of whom she put through elite ivy league colleges, and went on to get married and have families of their own. Did I menti ...more
Sep 28, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing
Lovely book. I had to get this after rereading Cheaper by the Dozen, and it did not disappoint. I was really impressed by Mother - she continued to work as a professional work study consultant and teacher, she became one of the faculty at Purdue University (before 1950 - a real feat at an engineering college, I think), she traveled to keep up her speaking engagements... but she kept her large family together and put them all through college - and didn't neglect them or refuse to give them attent ...more
Mar 03, 2011 Jenn rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
What an amazing family! What I liked the best was that essentially without this mother,this family wouldn't be where they got to in life. She allowed her husband to be himself (in the first book)and in this book it shows how her style of parenting was just as effective. When I was reading all of her accomplishments, I was in awe. She really was the leading lady in many things that affect my life right now. What an inspiring and entertaining story! This family sure had many adventures. The book h ...more
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Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. (March 17, 1911 – February 18, 2001) was co-author, with his sister Ernestine, of Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes. Under his own name, he wrote Time Out for Happiness and Ancestors of the Dozen.

He was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, the 5th child (and first boy) of the 12 children born to efficiency experts Frank Gilbreth, Sr. and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, a
More about Frank B. Gilbreth Jr....

Other Books in the Series

Cheaper by the Dozen (2 books)
  • Cheaper by the Dozen

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“In a person's lifetime there may be not more than half a dozen occasions that he can look back to in the certain knowledge that right then, at that moment, there was room for nothing but happiness in his heart.” 94 likes
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