Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France

MesmerizedWritten by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

This is one of the best books I’ve read all year! Mystery, science, drama, history, and Ben Franklin! What’s not to love? I picked this book up for our school library because I thought the teachers would like a new book on Ben Franklin. After reading it, I know it will be a hit with the students as well. While in France to request aid for the Revolutionary War, Ben Franklin learns of Dr. Mesmer. Dr. Mesmer was claiming to have discovered a new force that could cure people of disease and ailments. The doctors in France are irritated that Mesmer is stealing their “customers” and ask the king to intervene. King Louis XVI asks Ben Franklin to help him. Ben Franklin uses the scientific method to discover Mesmer’s source of power. From this experience the world gained blind testing or “the placebo effect”, hypnotism, as well as the term “mesmerized.” The illustrations are vivid and wonderful. The back of the book includes more details about the case, as well as information about other scientists working with Franklin. By the end of the book, I wanted to do a science experiment and become a detective! Fantastic!

Review by Teresa Edmunds, Westbrook Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 4-8

Mesmerized was about Ben Franklin solving a mystery. Dr. Mesmer would have a magic stick and you could be drinking something that tastes like berries and Dr. Mesmer would say it tastes like vinegar and that’s what you would taste! So Ben Franklin tried to figure it out. I like the way this book taught you about Mesmer and Franklin…the way Franklin figured out how Mesmer did his tricks. I did not like the way it was sort of childish, but other than that it was a great book!

Review by Haley C., Student, Twin Peaks Elementary
Rating: ★★★★✩ (4 stars)
Interest Level: 2-6

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Illustrated Website:

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France
Written by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
Candlewick Press
45 pages
Release Date: March 10, 2015

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