Pint-Sized Phenoms: The Bonus Edition of Extraordinary 9-Year-Olds

Last week it was the teens, but this week it's a group of nine-year-olds who are so special they had to get their own post. Their varied interests show how kids can find a passion and love in many different areas. 1) Quvenzhané Wallis- Wallis is the youngest nominee for Best Actress at the Academy Awards ever. She beats the previous nominee by about four years. 2013 National Board Of Review Awards - Inside Arrivals

What's even more amazing is that she was only 5 when she auditioned for the role in "Beasts of the Southern Wild!"

2) Sophia Lucia- Lucia has been wowing at dance competitions for years, but she's going national now that she's been appearing on Lifetime's Dance Moms. Lucia actually holds the world record for most pirouettes: 54! Don't believe me? Watch this video:

It doesn't seem like she'll remain a regular with the Abby Lee Dance Company-- and frankly, the way things seem to be going there that is for the best. I do hope she manages to squeeze in some studying so that she knows 6*9=54 once she can't turn that many times (Lucia is homeschooling she can focus on dance).

3) MMA fighters- Tim Keown's ESPN The Magazine article on the youth MMA competitive circuit for kids 5 to 15-- known as Pankration-- was a fascinating look at the development of formal competition for kids. I found this to be the most fascinating inside into this world in which, as describe,  a 9-year-old boy can sit upon a 9-year-old girl in competition:

Every Little Leaguer -- and his parents -- wonders if he can make the big leagues. But in youth MMA, the vibe is different. A professional career doesn't seem as distant. The path seems                      

                                                     more direct, the pool of participants far smaller.

4) The Long brothers- All of these championships and records pale in comparison to the achievements-- both athletic and human-- of nine-year-old Conner Long. Conner's younger brother, Cayden, is seven, and he has cerebral palsy. Cayden can't walk or talk, but he does get to compete in triathlons thanks to his brother pushing and pulling him in the water and on land. Both completed the Iron Kids Triathlon this year, and even though they finished last (Conner after all was competing WITH his brother) they won big, being honored as the 2012 SportsKids of the Year by SI Kids. I dare you to watch this video and not be moved:

I can only hope that my Carston grows up to be like Conner and Cayden. They are true phenoms and brothers and I applaud their parents for raising two such phenomenal young men.

Pint-Sized Phenoms: The Non-Olympic Edition (Music, Art, and Business)

In the past week the Olympics have brought us pint-sized phenoms like Gabby Douglas (and her hair), Missy Franklin, and Katie Ledecky.  But even in the midst of the Olympic Games it's important to remember that pint-sized achievers come in a variety of forms. Sure, a lot of them are athletes.  Some excel in Olympic sports that receive less attention than the events dominating primetime (tape-delayed) broadcasts.  For instance, I found this piece on five- and six-year-olds competing in triathlons in the Boston area quite interesting. Others excel in sports not currently included in the Olympic games, like golf.  Based on yesterday's New York Times article about 10-year-old golfer Latanna Stone (the youngest woman to ever play in the United States Women's Amateur golf tournaments) I'm sure her family would be pushing for her to compete in the Olympics at some point.

Athletes are great, and definitely deserve recognition, but we should also remember kids who love music, art, and even business.

I was moved by this recent story of a 7-year0ld drum "prodigy," Jaxon Smith, who amazingly was only one pound when he was born:

I'm not sure Juilliard would let him in, but it is clear that Juilliard is interested in developing more international young musical talent.  I found it fascinating that they will be opening a new campus in China.

If there are big bucks to be made as a prodigy on the musical scene, the young art market is even more promising.  Check out the kind of money child artists have been raking in recently; 5-year-old Aelita Andre creates paintings with price tags around $12,000 and nine-year-old Kieron Williams 24 paintings for $386,000.

That's impressive until you consider 12-year-old Willa Doss.  Four years ago, with the help of her mother, Doss started her own cosmetics line focused on sophisticated, tween skincare.

Now described as a mogul I'm sure Willa (and her mom) are raking in more than her pint-sized artist counterparts.

I don't think 12-year-old Ophelia Horton is making as much money as 12-year-old Doss, but she is establishing herself as the next big preteen fashion blogger.  That mantle has been worn very successfully by Tavi Gevinson (recently profiled in the Times and wonderfully profiled a few years ago in The New Yorkerwhere I first read about her) who has now started an online fashion magazine.

I wonder if Horton and Gevinson will blog about Doss, or if they use her products? Or if they plan to but any pint-sized phenom artwork? At the very least I hope the British Horton has taken a blogging break to enjoy the London Olympics, whether she roots for other pint-sized phenom athletes or not.