Archive | 3:58 am


5 Nov

Some words are fun. Some words have fun origins, like sabotage, which finds its roots in the French verb saboter, which originally meant to make loud clattering noises with wooden shoes. These were the shoes of poor country folks, so the word sabotage was coined by a French anarchist to describe work done in a deliberately slow and clumsy way to cause damage.

The first explanation I learned for the word came from one of my HS history teachers. he told us that the word came from  sabot, the word for those French wooden shoes. During the industrial revolution, farm workers used to throw their sabot into the machines that were taking their jobs. This is my favorite explanation that causes me to conger up Romantic pastoral visions of French peasants gracefully throwing their sabot from gracefully arcing arms.

Mesmerize is another word with an interesting origin. It comes from Franz Anton Mesmer, an 18th century Viennese physician who founded a therapeutic movement called mesmerism.

This brings me to Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Iacopo Bruno.


Publisher’s Summary: The day Ben Franklin first set foot in Paris, France, he found the city all abuzz. Everyone was talking about something new—remarkable, thrilling, and strange. Something called . . . Science!

But soon the straightforward American inventor Benjamin Franklin is upstaged by a compelling and enigmatic figure: Dr. Mesmer. In elaborately staged shows, Mesmer, wearing a fancy coat of purple silk and carrying an iron wand, convinces the people of Paris that he controls a magic force that can make water taste like a hundred different things, cure illness, and control thoughts! But Ben Franklin is not convinced. Will his practical approach of observing, hypothesizing, and testing get to the bottom of the mysterious Mesmer’s tricks? A rip-roaring, lavishly illustrated peek into a fascinating moment in history shows the development and practice of the scientific method—and reveals the amazing power of the human mind.

This was both a fun and interesting read. Bruno’s illustrations are marvelous


and the text makes the use of the scientific method exciting. A good read anytime, this would be a great introduction to a science fair unit.

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