Why Do Those Little Cheese Crackers Have a Hole in the Middle?

Here’s your bit of trivia for the day.cheese its

I have often contemplated that little hole in the middle of Cheez-Its and their imitators. It seems it’s their so the little cracker can be strung up on a piece of thread or string. Another reason I thought the hole existed was to make it more fun to hold the little cracker. I’ve often spun the things around while holding them between my thumb and forefinger.

It seems there is a far more practical reason for the hole. Without it the cracker would puff up and would be likely to flake off in the box. That’s why you sometimes find the crackers separated in tops and bottoms when you pour them out of the box.

Those crackers weren’t properly docked. Docking is the baking technique of poking little holes in a “short” dough (dough that’s high in fat and has a flaky or crisp texture after cooking like pie crusts, thin cookies or crackers). It helps vent the steam created in the oven during baking.

You can use a fork to poke small holes all over the surface of the dough. By venting the steam, docking keeps the dough from billowing or bubbling as it bakes. The larger the surface area the more docking the dough will need.


Should a Picture Book Emphasize a Message?

Aesop-fables-rare-Book-bookcoverFor some reason many people who know very little about writing picture books think a picture book has to teach something, that it has to be educational, that it has to have a moral.

There is one common truth with all writing whether it’s a novel, short story, poem, news story, Romance, Science Fiction, Picture Book or almost anything that people are expected to buy: It tells a story. Underneath, there is usually something being taught, something educational, a moral. However, whatever that might be is immaterial. Often it’s the reader who finds it. Often the author didn’t know it was there, because it wasn’t something the author was concerned with.

A good Picture Book tells a story first and foremost. Today the better non-fiction Picture Books weave the facts, the details into a story. Even the Picture Books that are referred to as Concept Books (picture books that are often plot-less because their emphasis is on a concept), usually have a story to tell.

A good writer has stories to tell. Good readers want to hear stories. Good writing is as simple as that. There’s no reason to make it more difficult (and it is difficult) by trying to build a story around a moral or something the author feels needs to be taught.

I just finished reading Tara Lazar’s latest Goodreads blog, “What’s Wrong With Writing Message-Driven Picture Books?” It says much the same thing.


Kids hooked on iPads: Technology addiction, or poor parenting?

child using iPadA four year old spending more time with an iPad than playing outside, a three year old playing games on an iPad while riding in the grocery cart, wonderful or not?

It used to be that parents were admonished for turning on the TV and plunking their kids down in front of it. The same goes for using any other form of technology to take the load off of parenting and ‘getting the kid out of your hair. Continue reading

An Unplugged Adventure

cover Doug Unplugged by Dan YaccarinoIf you have not read Dan Yaccarino’s Doug Unplugged yet, you should read it soon, especially if you have children.

Doug is a robot. His parent’s want him to be a smart robot. Every day they plug him in so information can be downloaded into him. One day, Doug unplugs himself, goes out into the word and discovers there is much that can be learned by not being plugged in.

Read Doug Unplugged to your children then suggest a day when they will be unplugged. It will be a day away from the televisions, radios, computers, tablets, cell phones and iPods. Continue reading