This elegantly-constructed story tells about Ben Franklin’s visit to France during the Revolutionary War and his encounter with the healer Franz Anton Mesmer. Along the way, we see the scientific method in action and see how every step applies to a real life experience, learn about blind studies and the placebo effect, and learn where the word “mesmerized” actually comes from. It was a historical story I didn’t know, and Mesmer was a historical character I’d never heard of. Rockliff paints him vividly and sympathetically but Ben Franklin is the hero.
And the kids reading the book may approach those science class discussions of the scientific method with entirely new eyes.
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. Candlewick: 2015.