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Before filling out that application for baby sign language, new parents take note: America’s obsession with accelerated infancy may not be kid-friendly. Alissa Quart would know: The author of Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child—an exposé of America’s stifling culture of giftedness—wrote her first novel at 7 years old despite her father’s relentless and “peculiar drills of the names of B-movie actresses, vocabulary words, and revolutionary political movements.” Though the book offers more than one twisted biography of a childhood-prodigy-turned-adult-basket-case, it transcends the status of a Mommie Dearest tell-all. An entire economy has developed around teach-your-anklebiter-to-read videos and chess lessons for preschoolers, Quart asserts, resulting in an unhealthy, unfun “recession of recess.” Narcissistic parents may be skeptical of the merits of kickball, but Quart convincingly argues for self-directed play’s win-win opportunity: Free time can put the “whiz” back in “whiz kid.” Quart discusses and signs copies of her work at 7 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Justin Moyer)