Oh, The Things I’ve Learned

By Sara Hoffmann
Senior Editor

Swallowed Gum cover As some of my fellow bloggers have mentioned, one of the benefits of being an editor is that you’re always learning something new. I recently had the opportunity to help develop an upcoming Spring 2010 series called Is That a Fact? (cover pictured). This group of books explores whether there’s any truth to adages like these:

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Cats always land on their feet.

The things I learned while working on this series were fascinating—and, in many cases, also pretty useful. For example, did you know that:

• Chicken soup does help cure a cold, because it slows down neutrophils—special white blood cells that rush around inside our bodies when we’re sick. The neutrophils’ rushing is what makes our heads feel stuffy. So that’s why chicken soup can help unclog a plugged-up nose.

• You can tell what the outdoor temperature is by counting a cricket’s chirps. This trick works because crickets are cold-blooded. A warm cricket chirps more than a cold cricket, so the more a cricket chirps, the warmer it is outside. To use a cricket’s chirps to get the temperature, just count up the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add 39 to the total. The answer will be the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit.

•It is possible to fly if you tie enough helium balloons to you. In fact, flying with helium balloons is a sport! It even has a name: cluster ballooning. (OK—this one’s more fun than useful. I wouldn’t suggest trying it at home!)

•Some people say that you can cure nighttime leg cramps by sleeping with a bar of soap under your sheets. Many scientists think this cure works mostly because people want it to, but plenty of leg-cramp sufferers swear by it.

Isn’t it amazing what you can learn by working on children’s books?

5 thoughts on “Oh, The Things I’ve Learned

  1. Sandy Donovan

    I learned a lot when I wrote a couple books for this series, too. But I was most surprised when I came across myths that I'd never even heard of. Sara, did you know that many people believe the average human consumes four spiders per year while sleeping, or that pouring salt water into vending machines can get you free items, before you edited this series? (Note: neither of those myths are true.)

  2. Deborah Kops

    I love this series. I've edited a few of the titles and learned a lot. It is also great fun to try and come up with ideas for the funny illustrations that accompany the text. There is one tidbit that I now make use of almost every day: To get rid of most of the harmful germs that congregate on your kitchen sponge (from raw meat, etc.), wet it and zap it in the microwave for 2 minutes on high power.

  3. Sara Hoffmann

    I hadn't heard the one about swallowing spiders, but I think I may have heard the vending machine myth before. Probably the most surprising one to me was the one about a bar of soap curing nighttime leg cramps. Who knew? It was great to work with you on this series, Sandy!

  4. Laurie S. Sutton

    These are the sort of oddball facts that go into my head and never come out. Thank you for bringing more of them to my attention. I want these books immediately!

Comments are closed