Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France

Fall 2015 Non-Fiction
Ages: 6 - 9 yrs.
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Iacopo Bruno
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763663513
Hardcover Price: $17.99

If this book by Mara Rockliff simply told the real-life story of how Ben Franklin demystified the mysterious force that Dr. (Franz) Mesmer used on 18th century French nobility as a cure-all for disease, it would be fascinating enough. But Rockliff and illustrator Iacopo Bruno offer readers much more. Franklin's exposé is set in age-appropriate historic and scientific context, and Rockliff's lively narrative and Bruno's colorful illustrations and dynamic use of varied fonts and word placements draw the eye from page to page. Franklin uses the scientific method to assess Mesmer's "invisible force," coming up with a hypothesis with which to test its validity (and in the process, readers learn what a placebo effect is and the origin and meaning of the word "mesmerized"). The last pages of the book offer more detailed information about both Franklin and Mesmer.

Lynne Heffley   ©2015 Parents' Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper's first weekly children's arts and entertainment beat.

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