All those days of torture came back to me-- the "Socratic Method" they called it... THEY being my oral surgery profs. They just kept asking questions until we ran out of answers. Mark Usher brings the father of philosophy to life in Wise Guy, an easy-to-read, well-illustrated primer for kids. The book is appropriate for two age groups, 6-8 and 9-12, as it is written and illustrated for the younger readers in the main frames, with more dissertation on sidebars for the pre-teens. The book covers Socrates' early life as he attempted to pin down the basic concept of the idea. It continues along, with Socrates picking up disciples as he developed the dialectic-- his framework for the logical analysis of ideas. The etermal question of the nature of good and evil prompts him to spawn the logical basis for ethics. Finally, as his enemies bring him to trial for his teachings, it is the ethics he deduced that left him no alternative but the cup of hemlock.
In a world of post-modern cultural and ethical relativism, it is precisely Socrates who can offer our young people an anchor in the form of logical analysis of ethical dilemmas. The pursuit of wisdom is the pursuit of truth, which is in reality the search for an absolute. Contrast this to our modern culture's use of phrases such as "my truth" and "what's right for me", and the book offers its best lesson.
Written in a lighthearted, storybook fashion, one is hard pressed to be saddened at the demise of Socrates. His death marked the notion that no man is above the law, despite its imperfections. This is important to note for parents concerned about the appropriate time to introduce literature with death involved. It is definitely not frightening as presented.
More could have been mentioned about the Socrates-Plato-Artistotle continuum, but for the intended reader this may be more dialogue than needed to get the message across. All in all this is a good work
Bill Koch, DDS