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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,515 ratings  ·  379 reviews
Discover how Benjamin Franklin’s scientific method challenged a certain Dr. Mesmer’s mysterious powers in a whimsical look at a true moment in history.

The day Ben Franklin first set foot in Paris, France, he found the city all abuzz. Everyone was talking about something new. Remarkable. Thrilling. Strange. Something called Science!

But soon the straightforward American inve
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Candlewick Press (first published September 23rd 2014)
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Rob About 4-6, but it could be read to younger children.

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 ·  1,515 ratings  ·  379 reviews

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Dave Schaafsma
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
One of the final 20 Goodreads nominees for 2015, this is the story of Ben Franklin and his scientific debunking of French "psychic" Mesmer. Shows how he used scientific deduction to do it, an inspiration to young elementary school sleuths and scientists.

In my house:

Dave 4 stars
Tara 3.5 stars
Harry (10) 3 stars
Henry (9) 5 stars (the one kid who seems most interested in math and science, so it was written for him!)
Lyra (8) 3.5 stars.
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, kidstuff
Interesting tale of how the scientific method butted heads with pseudo-science courtesy of Ben Franklin.

Ben, we could really use you around today to explain fake news, global warming, etc . . .
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I'd heard of Mesmer, but never knew that it was Benjamin Franklin who debunked his "science." I love the way the story was told here, the way the text and illustrations combined and intertwined, and the illustrator's slight injection of humor. (I noticed how he drew mesmerizing concentric circles for the endpages--rather dizzying!) What I liked best was how Rockliff pointed out along the way the steps in the scientific method as Franklin was doing them. What a great example to young scientists! ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! In writing a fascinating and entertaining glimpse into history and science, Rockliff manages something quite difficult: discrediting something (or someone) without completely devaluing it. It would have been easy to paint Dr. Mesmer as a villain, just as it would have been easy for the early scientists to have simply written off his work as a sham without finding any lasting value from the experiment. (Well, okay, I actually remain a bit unclear as to whether Mesmer truly believed in ...more
Katie Lalor
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
I really enjoyed this captivating story of Ben Franklin and Dr.Mesmer, and how this true story has changed science/scientific method. The pictures and text were very unique. It made it more attention grabbing with all the little details the illustrations had on the pages.
Michael Fitzgerald
This book is an exercise in excess. After 41 pages of picture book, it finds it necessary to include a full four additional pages of text to tell the story over.

The picture book section overdoses on typefaces, font sizes, bold face, italics - yuck. Just because one can have ten different typefaces on a page doesn't mean that one should. For all the talk of Franklin being a "plain and simple" apple pie compared to Mesmer, a "fancy layered torte," it's too bad the designer didn't get the message.
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I loved this fun story illustrating the use of the Scientific Method. I also really enjoyed the fact that it features one of history's most famous scientists, Benjamin Franklin. This true story (further fleshed out with an author's note at the end) tells about Franklin's visit in Paris and the amazing healing "force" practiced by Dr. Mesmer. I loved the way the scientific method was broken down throughout the book as Franklin tested Mesmer's ideas; and I further loved the nod to the Placebo ...more
Maxwell Rae
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Another Goodreads Choice Award nominee that I don’t really get the hype about. Yeah it’s about cool science stuff like electricity and hypnotherapy, but the layout of the writing is all over the page and is more styled like an olden day poster which was distracting for mummy to read, but necessary from a design standpoint as it tried to cram so much story into each page. I still scratched each page enthusiastically, making noises with my long nails. Mummy really should get on that and trim them ...more
Katt Hansen
A bit of scientific method, history and biography are all included in this story that tells about one of the lesser known aspects of Benjamin Franklin's trip to Paris. He is asked to look into the doings of a Dr. Mesmer. Cool story, excellent layout and design, well told. This entire book was awesome all the way around. I love these stories that offer so much more than a cutesy story. ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-harder-2016
Needed to read a science book for the 2016 Read Harder Challenge and this one suited my purposes.

Whilst short, I found it informative and very interesting. I was not aware the role Ben Franklin played in the development of science (in addition to his kite flying experiment) so this book has left me wiser.

Gets a scientific theory across in layman terms.

Recommend it to readers of all ages.
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Books like this really make history come to life. The illustrations are fantastic, with clean lines and careful layouts. My favorite part is Mesmer's canary alarm clock, a gem of a fact you don't get unless you read the backmatter. ...more
Bea Elwood
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bebe
Beautiful illustrations and layout. For older kids being introduced to the scientific method and new words (who knew the origin of the word mesmerized was a person?!?)
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The incorporation of story into the illustrations is amazing. Great non-fiction with source info included.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Benjamin Franklin went to Paris and heard every one talking about something new. He was curious and he found out what it was, guess what it was...? Something very intriguing called... SCIENCE. "There is a magic force that he Mesmer controls". This is what he convinces the people about. Read book and find out what happens through out this story. .....

This was a very intriguing story. I liked the way they put the pictures for the people to see the visualization. This book is short but good. I was
Angela Blount
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Originally reviewed for YA Books Central:

Suggested subtitle: A Founding Father’s Hypnotic Sidequest

Mesmerized is a gorgeously illustrated book with a strong Middle Grade appeal. It’s a fascinating tidbit of history blended with foundational science—an appealing balance of subtle teaching and masterful storytelling.

This true-to-life story follows Benjamin Franklin’s visit to France in the midst of the American Revolution. Famous for proving that lighteni
As is the case for many readers, I never can get enough about Ben Franklin. Perhaps I and other history buffs are intrigued by his involvement in publishing and his wise sayings or his political prowess--or maybe, it's those fascinating science experiments of his--that keep us coming back for more. This account of Franklin's trip to France relates how he used the scientific method to debunk the questionable healing practices of Dr. Franz Mesmer who claimed to use magnets and invisible forces to ...more
Coley Adkins
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
Paris - 1776; a time of extravagance, a time of excess and a time of wonder. However in America, it was a time of war. Benjamin Franklin travels across the ocean to ask King Louis and Marie Antoinette for more troops to fight the British. Upon his arrival, he meets a charlatan by the name of Dr. Mesmer. Mesmer claims to cure people with his magic iron wand. Little did Mesmer know that Franklin was on to his scam. Ben introduces the Scientific Method to the audience and proves Mesmer wrong by usi ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
During the American Revolution, an elderly Benjamin Franklin is recruited to journey across the Atlantic Ocean to meet with the King and Queen of France to request funds for the war against their mutual enemy, the British. Ben, a world renowned inventor, arrives to find Paris feverishly seeking out a man called Dr. Mesmer, who was said to be able to cure all ills with a magic wand. After their state business is completed, King Louis asks Ben to discover whether this newfangled alternative to med ...more
Vera Godley
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As an introduction to non-fiction, this picture book captures the essence of many things. The illustrations are humorously droll. The artist uses reds, browns, and burnt sienna to give richness to the compartmentalized illustrations. The typesetting lends emphasis and French eloquence, Merci beaucoup.

Young readers will learn....
--That Ben Franklin was an American Statesman, an inventor, and a scientist.
--That a method of healing in France was debunked by Ben Franklin using the scientific method.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
When in 1776 Benjamin Franklin visited Paris, he found the city absolutely berserk about Dr. Mesmer, who claimed to have discovered a powerful force. He also claimed to be able to use this force to make people "feel" things that weren't there, or taste water like vinegar or strawberries, etc. Some people was sure they have been cured by Dr. Mesmer's force.

Ben Franklin volunteered to be mesmerized too, but nothing happened to him. That's when he hypothesized about the force being in the patients'
Adair Sheppard
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
Mesmerized is an informational text I would recommend for students in 3rd/4th grade. This book is about Benjamin Franklin and his encounters with the French government and Dr. Mesmer. We learn about his relationship with King Henry and some of his accomplishments. We learn that Dr. Mesmer made popular a type of "science" that is still used today and is often called hypnotism. This book offers historical content while focusing on the scientific method.

I would use this book in my classroom to tea
American Mensa
Oct 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
At first I didn't want to read this book. It was confusing because there are French words, and cursive writing, and the way the words are laid out on the pages was frustrating me. I'm glad I did read it, though, because I really liked it. I love science and this book is all about science. It is about a new invention or discovery of Dr. Mesmer, and how Ben Franklin discovered what the new invention really was. I didn't like the way Dr. Mesmer bragged about his invention. My favorite part of the b ...more
Amy Fay
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
I chose to twin text Mesmerized with the book "Mad Margaret Experiments with the Scientific Method." Both books show examples of using the scientific method to solve problems. I would read these books with a science lesson right before using the scientific method for something. I would start the lesson out by having students fill out a KWL chart about scientific method. They would start out by righting what they know about the scientific method, it could be anything. Then we will move onto the s ...more
Ben Franklin uses the scientific method to debunk Dr. Mesmer whose miracle "cures" weren't doing anything but mesmerizing his patients.

I like the way the terminology and the steps of the scientific method are presented here. I didn't like the formatting, though: too sensational.

The writing is good: informative and entertaining; readers are given the facts and the space with which to come to their own conclusions about the effectiveness of Dr. Mesmer's "cures."

Back matter consists of an afterwor
Holly Mueller
I love that we can STILL learn new things about Ben Franklin! I didn't know that when he visited France, he was asked by King Louis XVI to investigate a Dr. Mesmer, who was supposedly hypnotizing people and curing their illnesses. Doctors were furious with Dr. Mesmer, but people flocked to him for their miraculous recoveries. Using the scientific method, Franklin proved that Dr. Mesmer's patients got better just because they BELIEVED they cured, inadvertently discovering the placebo effect. I re ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful picture book that does a great job of introducing children to the scientific method. It explains clearly how science can solve puzzling questions and perhaps even protect people from scam artists. The book also demonstrates how experiments are created and developed and fine tuned. The author's account of Benjamin Franklin's brilliance is highly entertaining, and the illustrations by Iacopo Bruno are dynamic. I would highly recommend! Parents will delight in this book, as well ...more
Jonathan Peto
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book uses a story about Ben Franklin in Paris to demonstrate the scientific method. More importantly, it demonstrates how the scientific method is a useful and creative way of observing the world. It also gives readers a sense of another era, when important cutting edge scientific investigation often only required a sharp mind and everyday objects like a blindfold.
I absolutely loved this book, and that's coming from someone who generally disdains children's non-fiction because it's so dry and dull. Illustrating the scientific method (and Placebo effect) through a story about Ben Franklin, Marie Antoinette, and silly French people. Genius. ...more
Jillian Heise
Perfect content connection to science classes with scientific method explained through the course of telling the story of when Ben Franklin was in France. Interesting story I never knew, and delightful illustrations of the historical time period.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Love the way the scientific method was explained through demonstration. This is a book that has many illustration elements weaved in—and it works! It also shows kid readers the importance of testing ideas/fads for oneself.
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Mara Rockliff is the author of many lively historical books for children, including Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France, winner of the Cook Prize and an Orbis Pictus Honor book.

Her newest titles are Billie Jean! How Tennis Star Billie Jean King Changed Women's Sports and Doctor Esperanto and the Language of Hope. Other recent books include Around America to Wi

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