Thursday, September 27, 2018

Never Too Young by Aileen Weintraub, illus. by Laura Horton

Never Too Young: 50 Unstoppable Kids Who Made a Difference by Aileen Weintraub is a book of mini-bios of kids who either showed brilliance at a skill or went above and beyond to make life better for people while still young. Some of them still are not all that old, some are stories of historical characters who have come and gone.

I've reviewed some similar books of mini bios about adults but I believe this is the first one I've read that's specifically about how natural talent, hard work, and skill manifested early. There's quite a variety and both familiar names and more obscure youngsters are covered. Amongst those who are familiar, a few are:

  • Pablo Picasso, who finished his first painting, Le Picador, at the age of 9;
  • Venus and Serena Williams, who started playing tennis when they were just 3 and 4 years old;
  • Joan of Arc, who was allegedly told she would lead the French to victory over the English by an angel and decided to fulfill her destiny at the age of 16;
  • Stevie Wonder, who began playing piano and drums at the age of 9 and whose neighbors loved to hear his singing by the time he was 10; 
  • Bobby Fischer, who became obsessed with chess at the age of 6 and became the youngest US Junior Chess Champion ever at the age of 13.

Although they're familiar to the adults in the room, some of those names may not be known to youngsters and I didn't know a few of them were child prodigies. I merely knew them as successful adults.

I love the fact that author Aileen Weintraub didn't stick to just those who are well-known, though. Some of those I'd never heard of:

  • Yash Gupta - who created a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes used eyeglasses to students in need;
  • Akrit Jaswal - a child prodigy who was performing surgery by the age of 7 and enrolled in college by eleven;
  • Marley Dias - who collected books about black girls and started a black girls book club after feeling disappointment that so many books were about white boys and their experiences; 
  • Autumn de Forest - Still young, Autumn's paintings were selling for thousands of dollars by the time she was 7 years old; 
  • Katie Stagliano - who donated a 40-pound cabbage to a soup kitchen and came up with the idea to plant gardens across the country and donate the harvests to the feeding of hungry people. 

Highly recommended - Great for school libraries and any youngster who likes to read inspiring stories about children who have done big things, Never Too Young would also make a great reference for classrooms to use as a starting point for class projects or reports.

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  1. I haven’t heard of lots of these. Very interesting. Surgery at 7 years old??? No way!

    1. I know! That one really surprised me. He was quite the child prodigy.


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