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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Spring 2019

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Off the Charts
The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies
By (author): Ann Hulbert
9781101971321 Paperback, Trade English General Trade SOCIAL SCIENCE / Children's Studies Jan 22, 2019
$22.95 CAD
Active 5.2 x 7.9 x 1.07 in | 0.91 lb 400 pages Vintage
The author of the widely praised Raising America gives us a compelling exploration of child genius at a time when parents anxiously aspire to raise “super children” and experts worry the nation is wasting brilliant young minds.

Ann Hulbert examines the lives of children whose rare accomplishments have raised hopes about untapped human potential and questions about how best to nurture it. She probes the changing role of parents and teachers as well as of psychologists and a curious press. Above all, she delves into the feelings of the prodigies themselves, who push back against adults more as the decades proceed. Among the children are the math genius Norbert Wiener, founder of cybernetics, a Harvard graduate student at age fifteen; two girls, a poet and a novelist, whose published work stirred debate in the 1920s; the movie superstar Shirley Temple; the African American pianist and composer Philippa Schuyler; the chess champion Bobby Fischer; computer pioneers and “prodigious savants” with autism; and musical prodigies, present and past. Off the Charts also tells the surprising inside stories of Lewis Terman’s prewar study of high-IQ children and of the postwar talent search begun at Johns Hopkins, and reveals what tiger mom Amy Chua really has to tell us. But in these moving stories, it is the children who deliver the most important messages.

TALES OF GENIUS: Stories of extraordinary lives are perennially fascinating.

COMP TITLES: Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree; Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World; and Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

LETS THE CHILDREN SPEAK: Hulbert searches out the subjects’ feelings about their upbringing and what we can learn from them about handling children’s skills.

EDUCATION: Education controversies are constantly in the news. This book gives us some ideas about what works and what doesn’t, particularly with respect to gifted and unusual children.

AUTHOR TRACK RECORD: Hulbert’s previous book, Raising America, was given front-cover reviews in all major papers: The New York Times Book Review; The Washington Post Book World; Chicago Tribune; Los Angeles Times.

ANN HULBERT is the author of Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children and The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford. Her articles and reviews have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and The Atlantic, where she is the literary editor. She is a graduate of Harvard and spent a year at Cambridge University. She lives with her husband, Stephen Sestanovich, in Washington, D.C.

Author Residence: Washington, DC

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“Engaging and insightful…. Hulbert approaches her dozen or so subjects not as a social scientist but as biographer and essayist, where her skills are superlative.”—The Wall Street Journal

“Part ode to young genius, part indictment of helicopter parenting, Hulbert’s crisply written account of überachieving kids probes our own complicated obsessions with talent and the need to stand out.”—O, The Oprah Magazine

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