Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies (Paperback)

Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies By Ann Hulbert Cover Image

Off the Charts: The Hidden Lives and Lessons of American Child Prodigies (Paperback)


Ann Hulbert’s in-depth exploration of the lives of sixteen extraordinary children over the course of the past century casts new light on America’s current obsession with early achievement. The figures she profiles include math genius Norbert Wiener, founder of cybernetics; two girls whose fiction and poetry 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. Hulbert probes the changing roles of parents and teachers as well as of psychologists and a curious press. Above all, she delves into the feelings of the prodigies themselves, whose stories so intriguingly raise hopes about untapped human potential and questions about how best to nurture it.
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 in Washington, D.C.
Product Details ISBN: 9781101971321
ISBN-10: 1101971320
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: January 22nd, 2019
Pages: 400
Language: English
“Compelling. . . . Child prodigies have always been fascinating [and] today their lives resonate with special force.” —The Washington Post
“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

“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

“A profound, sensitive look at what it takes to make a child prodigy, and the unexpected ways that brilliance can play out in the long run.” —The Saturday Evening Post

“What can we learn, in a society dedicated to high-achieving children, from children who seem ‘naturally’ off the charts in their achievements? . . . [Hulbert] does the good work, throughout, of resisting morals or too neat generalizations.” —Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

“Captures the complicated lives of child prodigies without descending into voyeurism or caricature. [Hulbert] has tried to ‘listen hard for the prodigies’ side of the story,’ to her great credit.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Fascinating if at times disturbing. . . . [Hulbert] makes clear, in this nuanced and meticulous book, that when it comes to the prodigy’s gift, the peril is indivisible from the glory.” —Newsday
“In this beautifully written, thoroughly reported look at young ‘geniuses,’ Hulbert poses fascinating questions about the roles of both genetics and pushy parents.” —Booklist (starred review)