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Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery That Baffled All of France
Contributor(s): Rockliff, Mara (Author), Bruno, Iacopo (Illustrator)

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ISBN: 0763695157     ISBN-13: 9780763695156
Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: September 2017

Annotation: “Together, Rockliff and Bruno make the scientific method seem exciting, and kids interested in science and history will likely be, well, mesmerized.” — Booklist (starred review)

When American inventor Benjamin Franklin arrives in Paris, he is upstaged by a compelling and enigmatic figure: Dr. Mesmer. In elaborately staged shows, Mesmer has Parisians believing he can control a magic force that changes the taste of water, cures illness, and controls thoughts! Can Ben Franklin’s approach of observing, hypothesizing, and testing get to the bottom of Mesmer’s tricks? A rip-roaring, lavishly illustrated peek into a fascinating moment in history shows the development of the scientific method — and reveals the amazing power of the human mind.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Nonfiction | History - United States - Colonial & Revolutionary Periods
- Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Science - Psychology
- Juvenile Nonfiction | History - Europe
Dewey: E
Age Level: 6-9
Grade Level: 1-4
Physical Information: 0.1" H x 9.2" W x 10.4" (0.52 lbs) 48 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 173543
Reading Level: 5.0   Interest Level: Lower Grades   Point Value: 0.5
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Fall)
In 1778 Paris, Franz Anton Mesmer convinced many they were cured of ailments through "animal magnetism." Benjamin Franklin, Antoine Lavoisier, and others debunked Mesmer's procedure through their invention of the "blind" test and discovery of the placebo effect. Aside from the misdirection of giving Franklin all the glory, Rockliff's text is engaging and lively and pairs beautifully with Bruno's dramatic, bold illustrations. Bib.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2015 #1)
In 1778 Franz Anton Mesmer, fleeing scandal, brought his technique of "animal magnetism" to Paris. Using magnets and a "glass armonica," his procedure convinced many that they were cured of their ailments. King Louis XVI commissioned the French Academy of Sciences to investigate, and they appointed a commission that included Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, among others. The commission debunked Mesmer's procedure (as practiced by his assistant D'Eslon), through their invention of the "blind" test and discovery of the placebo effect. Rockliff gives Franklin all the glory in her brief, sometimes jumpy narrative, suggesting he was the sole and direct appointee of the king, and that he invented and conducted the tests completely on his own (she gives a more complete context in her afterword). Aside from this grand misdirection, her text is engaging and lively ("Dr. Mesmer was as different from Ben Franklin as a fancy layered torte was from a homemade apple pie") and pairs beautifully with Bruno's dramatic and bold illustrations, which fully conduct the audience's attention. There is no way a reader will escape the truly mesmerizing and energetic design, which incorporates period Parisian flourishes. The entire presentation effectively introduces the gist of this story, and demonstrates in particular the scientific-method process which Franklin (and others) applied, and which makes this book particularly suited to STEM and Common Core curricula. nina lindsa Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2014 December #3)

Rockliff (Me and Momma and Big John) sashays into the scientific and political world of the late 18th century with a playful narrative that explains the origin of the word "mesmerized" as it details Benjamin Franklin's role in debunking a miracle cure of the day. Dr. Franz Mesmer's secretive "medicine" is taking Paris by storm: "When he stared into his patients' eyes and waved wand, things happened. Women swooned. Men sobbed. Children fell down in fits." In a gesture of indebtedness to King Louis XVI, Franklin demystifies Mesmer's techniques using the scientific method, revealing that the man's "cures" reside in the patients' heads. Bruno's realistic, digitally colored illustrations contrast Franklin's unadorned American sensibilities with the fancier stylings of pre-French Revolution Paris (embellishments include curlicues, bold and flowery typefaces, and optical illusions on the endpapers). A lengthier retelling of the story is included, along with descriptions (printed on old-fashioned medicine bottles) of the placebo effect and how a "blind" scientific study works. A stylish and humorous exploration of the scientific method and the mysteries of the human mind. Ages 6–9. Author's agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Feb.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2015 January)

Gr 2–5—Benjamin Franklin could be described in so many different ways: inventor, printer, scientist, thinker, diplomat. From this book, the word skeptic should be added to this list. While in France raising funds for the American rebellion against the British, Franklin was enlisted by Louis XVI to investigate the claims made by a young Austrian doctor who had much of Europe enthralled with his ability to remedy a wide variety of illnesses simply by waving an iron wand around their person. Calling it "animal magnetism," Franz Mesmer was treating the European elite by bringing them into darkened rooms while spellbinding music played on a glass armonica, invented by none other than Franklin himself. Mesmer would charge a rather large sum of money and pronounce his clients "cured." Doubtful of Mesmer's abilities, Franklin set about disproving the doctor's claims. Rockliff's lighthearted tone and lively writing style are enhanced by the use of different typefaces and print sizes, as well as a layout that will keep readers engaged throughout. Rockliff plays with words and rhythm, making this book an excellent choice for reading aloud. The artwork is infused with humor, and the individual's expressions throughout are a delight, from the look on the face of a swooning patient to Mesmer's own intense glare. There is much here to draw the eye and prod discussion. A lengthy author's note fills in the details of the story and provides information on the scientific method. Overall, a wonderful and fun-filled title that introduces yet another facet of a fascinating man.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

[Page 125]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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