May 7, 2015
Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Jacopo Bruno
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France
by Mara Rockliff
illustrated by Jacopo Bruno
During the American Revolution, Ben Franklin traveled to France. His goal was to convince the King and Queen to send money and soldiers to help fight the British.
The French were all abuzz about the wonders of science. They knew all about Franlin’s work with electricity. The only thing more exciting might be Dr. Mesmer. Dr. Mesmer claimed that a natural force that streamed from the stars flowed into his iron wand. He could then direct the force into his patients and cure what ailed them – whatever ailed them.
What would science come up with next?
The King asked Franklin to investigate. What was this amazing force that had his court all abuzz? Franklin agreed to look into it but Mesmer refused to meet with the American scientist. Fortunately, Mesmer’s assistant agreed to the meeting.
Franklin invited the assistant to use the wand on him. He felt . . . nothing. Mesmer told everyone that the force didn’t work on Franklin but Franklin thought otherwise. He believed that people felt a burning in their limbs because that was what they expected to happen. It was their minds at work and not some amazing force.
I don’t want to tell you the whole story but suffice it to say that Franklin used the scientific method to investigate Dr. Mesmer’s invisible force.
Whether you have a young reader who is interested in history or science or even hypnotism, pick this book up. Rockliff’s story flies and is complimented perfectly by hand drawn and digitially colored illustrations. The details in the illustrations pull the reader into the story without bogging it down and they are just cartoony enough to make Mesmer compelling and perhaps just a bit creepy.
This book is long enough that it wouldn’t be the best introduction for preschoolers to Franklin but older children who are learneing about the scientific method would benefit greatly from this book. Be ready for a busy discussion on how they would have tricked Mesmer into giving himself away.
Share this book with the young historian or science lover in your life.