Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

Published by Candlewick

Summary:  When Benjamin Franklin was in France to get support for the American Revolution, he became intrigued by the new process of mesmerization.  An Austrian doctor named Franz Mesmer was wowing Europeans with his new technique, which he claimed could people into a suggestive trance.  He would then tell them what to do, which was usually healing themselves of diseases.  Franklin arranged to have a demonstration with Mesmer’s assistant.  Using the scientific method, Ben blindfolded patients and was able to prove that their reactions to “mesmerization” were actually caused by their own minds.  Franklin reported his findings to the King of France, and soon after, Mesmer left the country.  Recommended for grades 2-5.

Pros:  Not only is this book packed with information about Benjamin Franklin, 18th-century science, and the scientific method, but it is presented in a way that is both interesting and aesthetically pleasing.  The text is in different fonts, with words of varying sizes, and occasional sidebars to explain related concepts.  The illustrations are both beautiful and amusing.

Cons:  The author’s note, while fascinating, was a bit overlong for the average 21st-century attention span.

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