Belles on Their Toes

( 5 )


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 unwelcome boyfriend, or even meeting the President. And the few distasteful things they can't overcome -- like castor oil -- they swallow with ...

See more details below
$11.21 price
(Save 13%)$12.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (23) from $1.99   
  • New (11) from $6.97   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Belles on Their Toes

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.49 price
(Save 30%)$14.99 List Price


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 unwelcome boyfriend, or even meeting the President. And the few distasteful things they can't overcome -- like castor oil -- they swallow with good humor and good grace. Belles on Their Toes is a warm, wonderful, and entertaining sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen.

Follows the life and career of Lillian Moller Gilbreth after her husband dies in 1924 and she takes over his motion study work and continues to raise their eleven children.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060598235
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/16/2003
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 292,994
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. was born in 1911 in Plainfield, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Michigan. He became a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy during World War II and received a Bronze Star and Air Medal. In 1947, he joined the staff of what is now the Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina. A columnist and reporter, he authored and coauthored several books, including Belles on Their Toes (with Ernestine Gilbreth Carey), How to Be a Father, and Time Out for Happiness. In 1950, he was corecipient (with his sister) of the French International Humor Award for Cheaper by the Dozen. He died in 2001.

Ernestine Gilbreth Carey was born in 1908 in New York City and graduated as an English major from Smith College. In 1930, soon after graduation, she began fourteen years of New York City department store buying and management. Meanwhile, she married and had two children. A writer and lecturer, she has authored and coauthored seven books, including Belles on Their Toes (with Frank Gilbreth Jr.), Jumping jupiter, Rings Around Us, and Giddy Moment. In 1950 she was corecipient (with her brother) of the French International Humor Award for Cheaper by the Dozen. She lives in Reedley, California.

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Belles on Their Toes

Chapter One

Something for Dad

Mother was going to Europe and leave us by ourselves. It was not an easy thing, but it was something she had to do for Dad. For us, too.

Frank carried her suitcases down the front steps to a taxicab parked under the porte-cochere of our house in Montclair, New Jersey. The driver climbed out of his air-cooled Franklin, and gave a hand.

"You the oldest boy?" he asked Frank.

Frank told him he was. Frank was thirteen.

"It's going to be tough on your Mother. All you kids, and you the oldest boy."

Everyone knew it was going to be tough. There wasn't any use talking about that.

"I'll put them on the train myself," said the driver, pointing his head at the suitcases. "I heard about your father."

Frank climbed the stairs and joined the rest of us on the porch, just outside the front door. That was where we usually said good-by when Dad went away on trips.

Dad had died three days before, on June 14, 1924. It seemed longer. He had had a heart attack at the railroad station in Montclair. It had happened in a telephone booth, while he was talking with Mother over the phone.

Dad liked regimentation and liked everything to be done by a system. He even had assigned each of us a number, which he used for routing intra-family correspondence and memoranda.

Mother wasn't that way. But from habit we lined up on the porch as we would have for Dad -- ages and in a sort of company front formation.

Anne, the oldest -- was eighteen -- at the tall end of the line. Jane, the youngest -- quite two -- at the short end. In between were Ernestine, Martha, Frank, Bill, Lillian, Fred, Dan, Jack, and Bob.

Anne told us to "dress right" on her. Dad always liked the line to be straight. We waited there for Mother.

We still weren't accustomed to seeing her in black. She looked tense and alone as she pushed open the screen door and came to the head of the steps. We wished she'd let some of us go with her to the boat, or at least to the Montclair station.

Mother stood there, tall, slim, and quite beautiful. Her figure never even whispered that she had had a dozen children. Her veil was pushed back over her hat, and her face was white and taut.

A few strands of red hair, the only part of Mother's person that wouldn't do her bidding, curled defiantly from under her hat. Everything else was black and white.

Whenever Dad said good-bye there on the porch, he always made believe we were secretly glad to get rid of him. Nothing could have been further from the truth, because we worshiped him, and he knew it. But he'd say we were only waiting for him to get out of earshot, before we'd start a wild celebration that would run far into the night. He'd tell us our long faces didn't fool him any, and that some day he was going to ride around the block and come back and catch us decking the halls with boughs of holly, building a bonfire, burning him in effigy, and -- biggest sin of all -- using one of his Durham-Duplex razors.

Mother didn't want us to know how she felt about leaving, so she smiled and tried to act like Dad.

"Those long faces don't fool me any," she boomed as heartily as she could."Just as soon as I'm out of sight ..." The boom dropped to a whisper, and then she couldn't go on at all. She held out her arms and we broke ranks and burrowed into them.

She didn't trust herself to talk for a while, and neither did we. Finally she pulled herself loose and started down the stairs. Just before she got to the cab, she turned and looked at us -- each one of us.

Mother has a way of making each child know he means something very special to her. Not just as one of the group, but as an individual person who has his own special claim on her heart.

"I love you so," she said quietly." I would never leave you, if it didn't seem the only way we can stay together later on. You know that, don't you?"

We knew it, all right. Most of Dad's money had gone back into his business. Mother was going to try to operate the business herself -- was one reason the trip to Europe was necessary. If she failed,the family might have to be divided or to move in on Mother's relatives on the West Coast.

Mother's mother had invited all of us to come and live with her, in Oakland, California. Since there were so many of us, Mother thought it would be a bit of an imposition -- in fact, than she was willing to impose on anyone, even her own mother. Several of Dad's friends had offered to adopt some of us. None of us wanted that.

"Don't worry about us," Anne assured Mother now. "Everything will be hotsy, honest!"

"I'm sure it will, dear," Mother smiled. "Not only hotsy, but totsy, too."

The driver started to help her into the cab.

"I'm sorry about your husband," he said.

"Thank you very much." Now Mother's voice sounded far away.

"I talked to a fellow that saw it happen. It must have been an awful shock for you."

"Shut up," Frank whispered fiercely. "Why can't he just shut up?"

Anne nudged Frank sharply, and he was quiet.

We got back into line as the cab started down the driveway. We could see Mother waving from the window in the back.

Lillian, who was ten, burst into tears ...

Belles on Their Toes. Copyright © by Frank B. Gilbreth. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2008

    Belles on Their Toes

    I am sure that at one point or another we have all read at least one comical and entertaining book. Well, Belles On Their Toes is a very hilarious book. It is about the Gilbreths, a very large family with twelve kids. It tells how they manage after their father died and how they took care of the money and other affairs. For instance they have a stingy sister in charge of the money so that they have to even fill out forms to get their allowance, and a hired man in charge of cooking the food who has never followed a recipe in his life. The family goes through one silly moment after another, from mass pandemonium around the house to a new nose for their mother. The book was written by two of the older Gilbreth children. It is a very good book<BR/><BR/> One way that it is a good book is because it is about a very close and proud family. Their mother doesn¿t want to have to accept help from other people unless she has to. So she keeps on working on what her husband did, studying motion to figure out how to reduce the amount of motion for anything people do, to enable them to become extremely efficient. The children try and behave themselves properly and not bother their mother when she is busy. However Tom, the hired man, he does not do that so well. He always has something new and wonderful to show Mrs. Gilbreth and he bothers her a lot. Also his language, while not it is not the worst language in the world, is not the best. Tom is always ready to help with pretty much anything as long as one does not sit on his table. There is never a dull moment in the family. They are always busy working and finding ways to be more efficient. Also they are pretty imaginative when it comes to ways of saving money. They defend themselves from stories their mother has told about them during lectures at school. The authors do a good job of telling the stories, of making people wish that they were a part of that family. They make people feel like they are there watching it happen. <BR/><BR/> So in my opinion this book is definitely worth reading. It is good for all ages young and old and they will certainly enjoy it. It is a good book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 10, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    From my grandmother's bookshelf.

    I read this book off of my grandmother's bookshelf. I was bored and the cover was interesting. Unfortunately, I read it before I read Cheaper by the Dozen. Fortunately, it was so fun to read, I immediately went and bought CBTD! That was twenty-one years ago. I have read both books at least ten times since. The family values are awesome. Everyone is likeable, but real- they have flaws! (Since it's based on a real family, this makes sense!)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2003

    The story continues!

    A great book that is sure to bring you to tears.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2002

    The Gilbreth's Grow Up

    Once again this is simply a tale of a family. Sentimental and charming. It's not supposed to be earth-shattering. But both books provide lessions on family life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)