Mesmerized by Mara Rockliff Book Review

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff
Illustrations by Iacopo Bruno
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: March 10, 2015

The day Benjamin Franklin arrives in Paris, he finds the city all abuzz. Everyone is talking about Dr. Mesmer, a man who claims to be able to control a magic force that can cure illnesses and control thoughts. The King is not thoroughly convinced though and hires Ben Franklin to ascertain the truth. Is Dr. Mesmer real or is he just a trickster?

An incredible historical biography that carefully lays out the scientific method of testing, this book read like a mystery and looked like a classically illustrated tome. There is so much going on in this book and yet it melds together so perfectly. We are introduced to a "character" that most children of the target age range will be familiar with: Ben Franklin. Although we are all familiar with the term mesmerized, a show of hands of those who knew where the name came from. I certainly did not, which always make this sort of book more exciting as I am always excited to learn something new. (and add to my stack of useless facts) Dr. Mesmer had quite a racket going on, but it was up to Franklin to figure out if people were really being healed magically or if there was something else going on. Franklin uses The Scientific Method: Hypothesis, Testing, Observation, and Conclusion, to determine the truth and concludes that what Dr. Mesmer discovered was the placebo effect. People got better because they were convinced they were better. A fascinating read with never a dull moment, this book was perfect in almost every way.