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Book Review: Wise Guy

Book Review

Wise Guy: The Life and Philosophy of Socrates by M.D. Usher (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005)

Ages 7 and up.

The "Wise Guy" is Socrates, and this book introduces kids to his life and thought. The author does a good job of expressing complicated ideas in a way kids can understand.

Usher uses a two-level style. The left-hand pages are a kid-language biography of Socrates, while the right-hand pages are more adult-level explorations of historical records and the philosophy of Socorates.

As you may remember, Socrates' life did not end well - he was executed (forced to drink poison hemlock) for spreading his ideas. So be aware that the book may raise some deep questions about capital punishment and political repression. But most kids will probably see this as one of those old-fashioned violent things you read about in books and not be too upset by it. The tone is matter-of-fact and continues to celebrate his life and thought.

At the end is a gallery of people influenced by Socrates, which may ignite your child's interest in other influential thinkers from history.

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