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DIOGENES by M.D. Usher

DIOGENES

By M.D. Usher (Author) , Michael Chesworth (Illustrator)

Age Range: 5 & up

Pub Date: June 3rd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-374-31785-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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)