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A well-illustrated children’s activity, but its power to induce neuroplasticity is implausible and unconvincing.

An educational game that’s designed to sharpen players’ mental acuity. 

Novelist and psychologist Litvin (Life of the Sailor, 2010, etc.) argues that academic underperformance isn’t necessarily a sign of intellectual deficiency. Rather, it could be the consequence of insufficient brain stimulation, which, he says, can hinder the processing of complex information. However, there are various mental exercises that can change the structure of one’s brain cells, he asserts, thereby optimizing one’s capacity for memory, increasing focus and concentration, and ultimately paving the way to academic success. His game involves various “modes of expression” that aim to involve multiple parts of the brain. Litvin described this approach’s underlying psychology in 2011’s Litvin’s Code, and in nearly identical terms; however, in this book, he describes the process of “translating” one perceptual stimulus into another, calling it “psychoconduction.” The game itself is fairly simple in concept: A player is presented with pictures of boxes, with some containing symbolic codes that represent numbers in rudimentary mathematical equations. (The pictures can also be expressed in audio form as a series of knocks, or in “kinesthetic” form as opening or closing hands.) The child figures out the equations by translating these codes into numbers, which, according to the author, provokes a full engagement of the senses. The bulk of the book is devoted to these numerous exercises, which are helpfully illustrated. However, as in Litvin’s Code, the author makes bold claims about both the effectiveness of his method and its underlying brain science, but he never provides scientific evidence as confirmation. For example, how precisely will this game cause simple brain cells to “act as complex” ones—a claim that seems dubious? Despite this, he reports impressive success; without offering any specifics or concrete proof, he says that all of the youngsters who tried his method went to college, including one with “severe dyslexia,” and that it improved the memory of elderly people with dementia. 

A well-illustrated children’s activity, but its power to induce neuroplasticity is implausible and unconvincing. 

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4269-7336-9

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2019

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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