Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
Publisher: Candlewick Press
In the late 1700s in Paris, France, a certain Dr. Mesmer claims to have access to a mysterious force which, with one wave of a wand, can cure illness, make people twitch or feel flames, and cause people to taste any flavor known to man. People come from all over France and pay great sums of money to experience the force, which becomes known as being mesmerized. The force works on every person Dr. Mesmer tries it on— every person, that is, except the skeptical Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, convinced that mesmerization is a hoax, makes use of the scientific method to prove Dr. Mesmer wrong, and gains the support of King Louis the XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette in the process.
Small side boxes throughout the book define elements of the scientific method and explain them as used by Benjamin Franklin, making this story a fantastic way to introduce young readers to the steps and application of scientific principles while also exposing a little-known piece of history and the origin of the word mesmerized. Gorgeously and intricately illustrated, the book’s graphics alone make it a fantastic addition to any collection. Even the end pages have enormous visual appeal. The reading experience created by this book is truly mesmerizing!