I learned about the popcorn phenomenon in Farmer Boy, one book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. The book covers the childhood of her husband, Almanzo Wilder. According to the book, it’s possible to fill one glass with milk and another glass of equal size with popcorn then pour the milk into the glass with the popcorn and it won’t run over. Wilder writes, “You cannot do this with bread. Popcorn and milk are the only two things that will go in the same place.”
As soon as I read this, I had to find out if it was true. It is. It also works with caramel popcorn.
This wasn’t the first time I had tried something out that I read in a book. I learned how to make paste from flour and water in Lois Lowry’s Anastasia books. I also learned, like Anastasia does, that you have to use the paste quickly or else it starts to smell. In Anne Digby’s Trebizon series, I learned about how to score tennis matches and about cricket from Antonia Forest’s books about the Marlowe family.
I was really pleased a few months ago when one woman in my writing group said that she tried something that I had written about and found out that it worked. My narrator, Sarah, is goes out for her school’s bicycle racing team. At one of her first lessons on racing, the coach tells her to get off of her bike and walk next to it, steering it only with her hand on the seat. At first, the front wheel flops around and the bike falls over. Then she feels the bike’s center of gravity. At first, she’s able to go a few feet at a time. Then she’s able to push the bike for a long way by the seat. When the woman in my writing group read about the drill, she went out to her bike shed to try it. It worked!