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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the widely praised Raising America - a compelling exploration of child genius told through the gripping stories of 15 exceptionally gifted boys and girls, from a math wonder a century ago to young jazz and classical piano virtuosos today. A thought-provoking book for a time when parents anxiously aspire to raise "super children" and experts worry the nation is wasting the brilliant young minds it needs.

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 15; two girls, a poet and a novelist, whose published work stirred debate in the 1920s; the movie superstar Shirley Temple and the African American pianist and composer Philippa Schuyler; the chess champion Bobby Fischer; computer pioneers and autistic "prodigious savants"; 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 discovers 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.

©2018 Ann Hulbert (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Sympathetic, sharply drawn...[Hulbert] vividly portrays the positive and negative impacts of being a child prodigy." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"In this beautifully crafted book, Ann Hulbert exposes the unique profile of each prodigy she highlights and the often shocking unpredictability of their development. She digs deep into the cultural signals that shape our attitudes towards these anomalous children." (Ellen Winner, author of Gifted Children)
" Off the Charts is impeccably researched, gracefully written, and wide in its scope of modern prodigies, ranging from 1920s preadolescent poets to teenage computer programmers and covering both boldface names like Shirley Temple and Bobby Fischer and the all but forgotten. It is a rarity among studies of exceptional children in favoring measured analysis over sensationalism, biographically narrating not only the numerous stories of burnout, but of those whose flames continued to burn brightly past childhood." (Teddy Wayne, author of Loner)

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