Bringing History to Life

From Kirkus Review:

I’ve got great nonfiction picture books on the mind this week, and here are but a small handful of them. Let’s get right to it.

First up, because it’s one of the most beautifully designed picture books I’ve seen this year, is Mara Rockliff’s Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. This book is so many things—an exploration of the scientific method, an introduction to the Placebo Effect, a peek into 18th-century France, and a glimpse into the personalities of the legendary Benjamin Franklin and Viennese doctor Franz Mesmer, the man we can thank for the word mesmerized. The book tells the story of Franklin’s visit to France during the American Revolution in an effort to convince King Louis the Sixteenth and Queen Marie Antoinette to join America’s war efforts. All of Paris was “abuzz about somebody new. Someone remarkablethrilling—and definitely strange. Someone called Dr. Mesmer.” Dr. Mesmer would essentially hypnotize his patients, telling them they were cured of what ailed them. Franklin was suspicious and showed everyone that Dr. Mesmer’s “cures” were so much hot air. As a result, Dr. Mesmer may have picked up his wand and fled, but as Rockliff writes, he discovered the Placebo Effect: “Belief can be a powerful medicine!”

Read more at Kirkus Review.

Image source Kirkus Review.

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