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Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen.

Lillian’s Time

“At the crack of dawn
as the sun spills orange
like the soft yolk oozing
from a well-timed egg

Lillian drinks a soothing tea
in the wicker by the window.
The day is not yet alive.
The house is not yet awake.

Lillian sips and thinks about
what she must do today
before her army of children
invades the quiet of her time.”

Lillian Evelyn Moller Gilbreth (May 24, 1878 – January 2, 1972) was an American psychologist and industrial engineer. She lived a challenging life, filled with children (eleven in total), intellectual fulfillment, and a list of accomplishments that most of us could only hope to achieve. Imagine holding the title of efficiency expert, industrial engineer, inventor, psychologist, author, professor…wait, did I already mention mother to eleven children? And, apparently she always said that her favourite role was that of a mother…Go Figure!

From Tundra Books’ Great Idea Series comes a wonderful historical account of this remarkable woman’s life. Spic-And-Span! Lillian Gilbreth’s Wonder Kitchen. is penned for ages 5-8, and written by poet Monica Kulling. The illustrations by David Parkins do a remarkable job taking kids through that time period, yet still keeping the book relatable. There is a lot to cover in the book, after all. 

Lillian Gilbreth had after all, an impressive resume even for today’s standards. One of the first working female engineers holding a Ph.D., she is considered to be the first true industrial/organizational psychologist. Along with her husband, Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr., she contributed to the study of industrial engineering in the fields of motion study and human factors. Efficiency expertise was her domain…how else could she manage to multitask such an impressive array of talents within a short time.

The title of the book gives the impression that this is a book of efficiency in the kitchen. Spic-And-Span does eventually lead up to this aspect of Lillian Gilbreth’s career later in the book. But, it felt like it took a bit of time to get to the crux of the title. Perhaps, if the title of the book could have been different, then the disappointment I felt trying to connect the title with the story, would have been lessened. Nonetheless, I actually found Lillian Gilbreth’s story more fascinating towards the start of the book, where the writing felt rhythmic, engaging and informative. The latter half of the book felt a bit rushed, albeit, it’s clear that there was a lot to cover in Lillian Gilbreth’s life. A fan of poetic prose, I was expecting more of a rhyming poetic narrative (the way the book started off on the first page)...especially since I was aware that Monica Kulling is a poet. Luckily, illustrations by David Parkins keep the book super engaging and is a great informative read for the younger ones. 

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Blog post by @ShilpaRaikar (Creative strategist, decor enthusiast and book lover, who also writes for a branding blog: thinkblink.ca/blog, as well as a lifestyle blog: sukasastyle.com T: @SukasaStyle) 


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