Mesmerized: how Ben Franklin solved a mystery that baffled all of France
written by Mara Rockliff; illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
Candlewick Press, Somerville, Mass., 2015
Picture book, narrative nonfiction
Orbis Pictus honor book, 2016
Interest level: grades 2-6
Reading level: 5.0
3 out of 5 stars
This is a story of how Ben Franklin used the scientific method to debunk the work of Dr. Mesmer, who claimed to be able to control a force that could cure people of any kind of sickness. This “force” was actually hypnotism, and Franklin was able to prove that people’s minds were able to make them see what they believed they would see.
While the story is certainly fascinating, I felt that some of the text was confusing. The inclusion of some French phrases, fancy cursive text, and scientific theory make this a picture book that is not best suited for older children. As a read-aloud, the story could be shared with 2nd or 3rd graders who are studying the scientific method.
The book includes a long note at the end that provides more detail about the story, and bibliographic sources.