review: Mesmerized

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Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved the Mystery That Baffled All of France
by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno

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 medicine is genuine or the work of a charlatan. Determined to assuage his own curiosity, Ben uses his “Scientific Method” to test Dr. Mesmer’s claims.

Based on Dr. Franz Mesmer’s theory of Animal Magnetism, this picture book includes short text and humorous illustrations that tell the story, while a few detailed pages at the end give historical facts about the topic and characters. It features phrases in French, which can be easily translated using context clues. Visually, the interior boards are covered with an optical illusion pattern that matches the title and theme. Pages are varied with vector silhouettes, antique flourishes, and gorgeous illustrations in a box style that holds interest. This is a beautiful and informative book for Elementary-aged children.

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