Not long ago I had a chance to see Caroline B. Cooney give a speech to the New York Public librarians (children & YA) on a variety of interesting topics. At one point she cited her book Code Orange and explained where she got the inspiration for the tale. In 2003 there was an incident in Sante Fe where a librarian found a most peculiar bookmark:
Librarian Susanne Caro was leafing through an 1888 book on Civil War medicine when she spied a small, yellowed envelope tucked between the pages. Freeing it, she read the inscription "scabs from vaccination of W.B. Yarrington's children" in the corner, with the signature "Dr. W.D. Kelly," the book's author.
After some research, the 23-year-old Santa Fe, N.M., woman decided not to open the envelope. "The only thing I could find connected with it," she said, "was smallpox."
Cooney thought about the incident. What if it was a boy who found the scabs? A bored teenage boy? A bored teenage boy who played with them, crushed them up, and maybe even tasted them? Good plot material, no?
Well there was a fun blog piece on Things Found in Books. I was unaware that bacon was a legendary bookmarkish find. You learn something new every day.
Thanks to Dan for the link.