Wonder Kids: The Remarkable Lives of Nine Child Prodigies by Charis Cotter

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Stars: ***1/2

I received this book for review from Annick Press. I am counting it towards the Great Canadian Book Challenge.

Summary: “Every kid is good at something. But imagine doing it so well that grown-ups flock to see you in action. Meet nine prodigies who were born with extraordinary gifts – and worked like demons at their passions. Phillis Wheatley, a black slave in colonial Boston, was 14 when her first poem was published. Stevie Wonder wowed audiences with his harmonica solos at the age of 12. And future film star Buster Keaton was hurtling through the air in a family stage act when he was only three. But the life of a wonder kid is not necessarily an easy one. Find out about how they were discovered, the struggles that shaped their lives and how their dazzling talents stunned the world.”

In addition to the ones mention above, the book also talks about Clara Schumann who played the piano, Fanny Mendelssohn who at 13 memorized two hours of Bach’s piano music and them performed it for her father, Maria Agnesi who spoke seven languages by age 13, Dai Vernon who fooled Harry Houdini himself with a card trick at age seven, Wang Yani who paints so well her work was shown all over the world by the time she was 10 and Terry Tao who at six wrote his first computer program.

Some of the stories are long and some are short. The longest is 19 pages and the shortest 6 pages. Each story has some real photographs except for the ones where the person died before photographs were invented. Those ones have sketches of what they looked like. There are some diagrams and illustrations and some side boxes with extra information. The beginning of each chapter starts with a dialogue that may have occurred in that child’s life based on what is known of them. The end of the chapter has books, CD’s, videos and websites to go to for more information on that person.

The book was fairly well written and interesting but the first story (Phillis Wheatley was too long for me, I found my mind wandering with that one.

Charis Cotter also has another book similar to this one called Kids Who Rule: The Remarkable Lives of Five Child Monarchs. It looks interesting too.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.