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LITVIN'S CODE

An educational tool presented without a rigorous argument for its effectiveness and that may feel dutiful to children.

Litvin introduces a game—including a workbook of exercises—designed to promote mental acuity in children. 

According to author Litvin (Introduction to Brain Stimulation by Psychoconduction, 2011, etc.), a psychologist, parts of the human brain are “sleeping” or “inactive.” As a result, the brain as a whole underperforms, falling short of its potential efficiency. Litvin devised a game—a “new approach to non-invasive brain stimulation” intended to awaken those slumbering sectors of the brain—that emphasizes an integration of different kinds of stimuli into one continuous learning sequence, including “visual, audio, tactile, kinesthetic and olfactory types.” Litvin argues that the recruitment of all the senses (rather than only one) into action should improve “attention, concentration and the memory of the entire brain.” The exercises unfold in great detail, including visual illustrations. In general, each exercise presents a visual display of boxes that either contain a symbol or are empty. Each visual display corresponds to a number and a letter and has an “audio representation,” which is a series of knocks. The kinesthetic element, which corresponds to the numbers and letters, is expressed through the clamping and unclamping of each hand. A participating youngster—Litvin claims the game is appropriate for children as young as 5 years old—translates a code from one perceptual sense to another. The book is almost entirely a workbook of exercises—there is one page of explanation, which provides no scientific analysis of the functioning of the brain or any empirical evidence that this learning tool is superior to any other except the author’s anecdotal experience. For example, it’s not obvious the exercises are neurologically more productive than reading a book with a child. But they are lucidly explained and easy to follow. However, many parents will be skeptical that this particular brand of game, especially for kids used to all the options on the internet, is “fun.” The exercises feel like exactly that: drills conceived to foster greater competence, not merriment. 

An educational tool presented without a rigorous argument for its effectiveness and that may feel dutiful to children. 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4669-0045-5

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2019

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NUTCRACKER

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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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

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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