Books by M.D. Usher

Kirkus Star
illustrated by T. Motley, adapted by M.D. Usher
Released: Dec. 15, 2011

"An entertaining romp, even without the raunchy bits. (afterword) (Classic. 11-14) "
A faithful (if relatively clean) version of the world's oldest surviving complete novel, written "for librarians, teachers, scholars, and extremely intelligent children," according to the afterword. Read full book review >
DIOGENES by M.D. Usher
Released: June 3, 2009

Usher appropriately casts a free-ranging mutt in the role of the philosopher in this worthy, picture-book introduction to his life and lessons. Diogenes—father of the Cynic (meaning "dog-like" in ancient Greek, as Diogenes unashamedly did his private business in public) school, exemplar of the autonomous ascetic—is very much a man for the times, embracing poverty and questioning received opinion. Here, Diogenes the dog sports the real man's quirks and tricks—he carries a lantern in the middle of the day, in search of a "good man" (they're hard to find)—and appealingly delivers his advice to the people of Athens: live simply, want little, be your own master. He addresses Alexander the Great with the same clarity—"Would you please step aside? You're blocking my sun"—while taking his leisure in his famous pot. Chesworth's pen-and-wash artwork is playful and evocative (though the rich merchant appears to be wearing leather sandals, not golden slippers), while the author keeps the text as simple and easeful as Diogenes would have wanted, fleshing out the philosopher in an afterword. (Picture book. 5 & up)Read full book review >
WISE GUY by M.D. Usher
Released: Nov. 2, 2005

"He was a curious boy, and cheeky too, but more than anything in all the world he wanted to be happy, he wanted to be good, and he wanted to be wise." Having opened a dialectic ("a Greek word for an intense logical conversation") that continues to this day, Socrates remains a seminal figure in the history of ideas—ideas which, as Usher, a Classics professor, brilliantly proves, are not beyond the abilities of even younger readers to absorb. Noting that Socrates was not only a dedicated seeker of truth but a social gadfly and a hearty partier, the author follows him from youth to trial and execution, using running side notes to expand on concepts introduced in the main text. Bramhall captures the generally lighthearted tone with broad caricatures of the tubby philosopher—looking like a cross between Avi and Zero Mostel—happily engaged in talk with both attentive followers and discomfited adversaries. Usher closes with links between Socrates and such later thinkers as Erasmus and Martin Luther King, Jr., plus chapter and verse, or at least credible justification, for all of his quotes and information. An intimate, memorable, outstanding introduction. (biographical sketches, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-10)Read full book review >