Details, details, details! These are the facts that make stories come alive. I love looking for fun facts to put in my books. The hunt makes me feel like a detective–or a miner, always digging for interesting and rich tidbits to add to my stories. Here's a sampling of what I found.

Did you know . . . .

  • Hawaiian children munch on rice candy in wrappers that can be eaten? Or that Indonesian kids eat roasted grasshoppers. That's sure different from what I served my daughter. (Check out more about growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia in Barack Obama: President for a New Era.)

  • More children around the world leave their lost teeth for animals than the tooth fairy? The most popular animal that likes people teeth is the tooth mouse. (Find added tooth traditions in Tooth Tales from around the World.)

  • Mail was delivered by young boys on horseback during the 1860s? Pony deliveries occurred long before there were railroads, roads, and cars. (See more about horses and delivering mail in Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express.)

  • Concrete mixers hold 32,000 pounds of concrete? That's enough to make a sidewalk that runs 130 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 4 inches thick. This is as long as standing about 5 elephants end to end in a row! (Find more fun facts about making concrete in Concrete Mixers.)

  • Kids who have body tics (not the buggy kind) or make unusual sounds may have Tourette syndrome, a condition that is not catchy? And these kids cannot control their movements, so treat them kindly. (Read about this interesting condition in Tourette Syndrome.)

  • A secret group called the Underground Railroad formed to help slaves escape to freedom? By the time slavery ended in 1865, more than 60,000 runaway slaves traveled the Underground Railroad to safety. (Check out how the group worked in Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad.)

  • Tiger Woods started swatting golf balls when he was only 10 months old? (Find out more about Tiger and other kids who did awesome things when they were your age in Extraordinary Young People.)

  • Seventeen-year-old pitcher Jackie Mitchell struck out the famous Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Tony Lazzeri? That was Jackie's only chance to pitch with the guys. The baseball commissioner declared that baseball was "too strenuous" for a girl. (Read how talented female athletes fared in Winning Women in Baseball and Softball.)

  • People who play chess and board games or complete crossword puzzles remember more and a longer time? (Learn how the brain works and what happens when it doesn't in Alzheimer's Disease.)

  • Two hundred years ago Chinese parents used to bind their girl's feet in tight bandages? They wanted to keep the feet small, so they would fit into fancy slippers. Ouch! (Check out other shoe facts in Shoes through the Ages.)

  • Smoke from tobacco products, such as cigarettes, pipes, and cigars consist of more that 4,000 different chemicals? Some are found in rat poison, paint stripper, and lighter fluid. How gross is that? (Find other smoking facts and the damage tobacco causes in Lung Cancer.)

  • Boys ages 7 to 13 risked their lives to be drummer boys in war? They were too young to vote or go to high school. Yet they left home to drum messages for soldiers before there were cell phones or computers. (Learn more about these brave kids from Diary of a Drummer Boy.)

  • Women were kept from voting or speaking in public at one time? Women who dared object were insulted, banned from groups and churches, and thought unwomanly. (Read more about the battle females fought to gain the vote in Let Women Vote!)

  • Every family in the United States throws away about 45 pounds of garbage each week? That's enough garbage to fill 63,000 garbage trucks. The line of filled garbage trucks for one year would stretch from Earth halfway to the moon. (Check out more facts about these trucks in Garbage Trucks.)

  • Children as young as seven once worked in factories? Many children tended machines that wove cloth. These were dangerous jobs, and some children got injured or died when machines broke. (Read about a girl who invented a way make safer machines, Margaret Knight: Girl Inventor)

  • Native Americans played the first soccer in the United States? They called their game pasuckuakohowog, meaning "they gather to play ball with the foot." (Learn more about soccer and women's role in the game from Winning Women in Soccer.)

Copyright© 2005 Marlene Targ Brill. All rights reserved.