Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tulip at the Bat

Reader’s Guide
By Leticia Penn

About the Author
“Great poetry is a circus for the brain.”
      –J. Patrick Lewis   
J. Patrick Lewis has written over seventy children’s books mostly poetry. He makes over 30 elementary schools visits a year. He was named the 2011 Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation in 2011. He also received the 2011 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Children’s Poetry Award for his body of work and the National Council of Teachers of English Excellence in Poetry Award.  Visit his website at

About the Illustrator
Amiko Hirao is the illustrator of picture books Take Me Out to the Ball Game, How the Fisherman Tricked the Genie, Just What Mama Needs, and All Aboard! She resides in Brooklyn New York.
Text & Illustrations from Tulip at the Bat by J. Patrick Lewis.  Illustrations © 2007 by Amiko Hirao Published by Little Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved. Sylvia M. Vardell Interview

Lewis J. Patrick. 2007. Tulip at the Bat. by Amiko Hirao. New York: Little Brown and Company. ISBN 0316612804

Recommended Age Levels 4-10

Summary of Book
This poem picture book is about the World Series baseball game between the Boston Beast and the New York Pets. It is the end of the ninth inning when Tutu Tulip the Hippopotamus, a player for the New York Pets goes up to bat. The New York Pets have two outs and with two bases loaded; Armand Octopus on second and Amanda Elephant on first base. Tulip swings so hard, the baseball lands three feet from plate and begins to dig into the ground creating what seems like an endless deep hole in the ground. As the Boston Beast attempt to excavate the ball the New York Pets walk in three runs and win the World Series 3-1. In the end the city of New York celebrates the Pets with a ticker tape parade. Tulip at the bat is a delightful parody of Ernest Lawrence Thayer’s ballad of Casey at the Bat where the main character Casey was actually struck out, unlike Tulip at the Bat.

Review Excerpts
K-Gr 3-In this unique take-off on "Casey at the Bat," the New York Pets are playing the Boston Beasts in the World Series. Each team has quite a beastly lineup. Boston catcher Armand Armand the Octopus has lots of gloves at his disposal. Sliding into third base is a scary thought with the Pets' Lance Porcupine on the bag. However, it is Tulip Hippo who wins the day for New York when she bunts a ball so hard that the Beasts have to dig it out of the ground. Readers will thoroughly enjoy the antics of these animal athletes. The rhyme works most of the time, and it is witty and silly and lots of fun. The illustrations burst with color and action, and they're done with a perspective that puts viewers right on the field. Although young Boston fans might have preferred a different ending, this rollicking good read is a winner.
-School Library Journal

The New York Pets square off against the Boston Beasts, with the usual result, in this very distant cousin to “Casey at the Bat.” It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, Boston up by one—but with Pets pitcher Armand Octopus hugging second and corpulent outfielder Amanda Elephant really holding down first, up to the plate comes Tulip Hippo, with her “double stubble chins” and a pink tutu “held together by a dozen safety pins.” Unlike Casey, though, Tulip drills the pitch—so hard that it sinks into the ground in front of the plate, giving all three runners time to lumber home. As the line breaks in the last verse don’t come on the rhyming words, and Lewis has Tulip bunting while in the picture she’s swinging away, this strikes out on editorial attention to detail. However, Tulip, who is last seen waving triumphantly with her teammates through a blizzard of ticker tape, makes a fetching hero, and the outsized “WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS” message at the end will be music to the ears of New York fans everywhere.
-Kirkus Reviews

Patrick Lewis's parody of "Casey at the Bat" pits the Boston Beasts against the New York Pets with Boston ahead at the bottom of the ninth. All seems lost until Tulip the hippo drives a bunt so deep into the ground that Armand Octopus, Amanda Elephant, and Tulip cross home plate before the ball is excavated. The text is full of word play and baseball lingo, and children will enjoy the outsized animals that are barely contained by the borders of the illustrations. The rambunctious verse reads aloud well, but the mayhem in the jelly-bean colored illustrations and the disjointed storytelling may lose readers who don't know their baseball.
-Library Media Connection

Awards/Honors Received
*Even though J. Patrick Lewis was named Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation, Tulip at the bat did not receive any awards.

Questions to Ask Before Reading  
*Have you ever played baseball before?
*What was your team’s name?
*What were your team colors?
*What is your favorite baseball team/player?
*What equipment is needed?
*What is the object of the game?
*What is a championship?
*How would you celebrate a victory?
*What is good sportsmanship?
*If you could put animals on a baseball team which ones would you choose and why?

Suggestions for reading aloud
*Divide the class in two groups. One group of students will read the lines (chosen by teacher) of Casey at the bat while the other group reads the lines of Tulip at the bat simultaneously. Give students time beforehand to practice individually, then as a group, then both groups read simultaneously. 

*Choose two volunteers. The first volunteer will read the first line and the second will read the second rhyming line that rhymes with the first.  Give students time to practice so that fluency may be enhanced.

*Read Tulip at the bat aloud to students and make sure to display the words  as you read them aloud to model fluency.  Once students become familiar and comfortable reading the poem divide the class into two groups and have one group read the first line in unison, then the other half of the class read the line that follows. Take turns reading each line to practice fluency.

Follow up activities

*Have students write their own version of Tulip at the bat but instead of including pets/animals ask students to include their friends and family members and the nicknames they have for each other, to create their own team. To make it challenging ask students to rhyme at the end of each line.
*Explain to students that at the end of a professional baseball game players are usually interviewed by reporters. Have students brainstorm questions they might ask a player after they won the championship if they were a reporter. Then ask students to assume one of the character roles such as Tutu Tulip or Lance Porcupine while another student conducts the interview and writes responses down. Then have students write their report and post the interviews on a “Read All About It Gazette”.
*Tell students that a couplet is composed of two lines with the same number of syllables per line with the ending word rhyming. Have students think of a topic they would like to write about. Have students brainstorm words that rhyme with the topic they chose, then as a group, create couplets with rhyming words at the end.

*Have students brainstorm a list of common foods found in Tulip at the Bat (i.e. peanuts, hotdogs, pop corn, cotton candy, ice cream, etc..) Then have students survey the school and graph results in a bar graph. Make sure students are familiar with parts of a graph.

*Give students an aerial image of a baseball field and ask them to identify as many 2-Dimensional polygons such as square, rectangle, diamonds, etc Then have students identify what kinds of angles are found in each of the polygons and label them as they find them. Be sure students understand the attributes of a polygon.
*Show students an image of the baseball field stands and ask them to identify how and why they are arranged that way.  (Rows and columns to find seats easier) Tell them arrays are also organized in rows and columns and how they are used to show multiplication. Then have students cut out small images of seats and arrange them in rows and columns, just like they would be at a baseball stadium.
*Give students a drawing of their playground baseball field. Have students go out to the school yard and measure with a yard stick how many yards it is from one base to another, then use a calculator to find the perimeter around the bases.

*Students list what animals they saw in Tulip at the Bat, then they categorize them according to herbivores and carnivores.
*Have students discuss the various forms of energy. Then what type of energy is being used and why it is categorized as such when the bat is being swung, the ball is being thrown, the players are running to the bases, the fans are cheering, the sun is shining, Then have them cut out images of those actions from a magazine and have various categories for each energy with the images from the magazine.
*After watching “The Magic School Bus Plays Baseball” video, have students write the importance of forces, gravity, speed, and friction and why they are critical to the game of baseball.
*Compare and contrast wood and metal bats according to the characteristics of conductors and insulators. Then have them write a persuasive piece on what type of bat should be used and the reasons why.

Social Studies
*Using Google Earth,, students will find New York, explore around and identify the various landforms such as island, lakes, canal, peninsula, ocean, river, mountain, fall, etc.. Then on the handout of a map of New York students will label the landforms found using Google Earth.
*Use Google Earth,, to view student’s hometown baseball stadium and the New York Yankees (Pets) stadium, compare and contrast each using a T-Chart.
*Gather books, websites and encyclopedias. In groups of two students will look up the history of baseball. How did it get started, what equipment is needed to play, when did it get started, how has it changed, where women and other minorities allowed to play? Then have students write all their organized final information on paper shaped like a baseball and display on a baseball theme bulletin board.
*Give students a United States Map and ask them to choose a baseball team they would like to follow across the U.S. Have students look up the opposing teams being played and where they are from. On the map, students will trace the path their team will be taking on away games, this way they get to know cities around the U.S.

*Tell students they have been chosen as the next designers for the New York Pets uniform. First have students brainstorm in groups and write what the uniforms should look like, next students will sketch the uniform, and finally students will create a three-dimensional uniform and present as a group to the class.
*Write the names of each of the animals found in Tulip at the Bat on a piece of paper. Then mix the names up and have students draw three each. Pass out three index cards size 3x5 to each student, then, ask them to create a trading card for each of the names they drew. They must include the player’s number, nickname, homeruns, drawing of the player, and date of birth.
*Remind students how the New York Pets celebrated their championship with a parade in the streets of New York. In groups of four, students will design a float that the New York Pets will ride for their parade. Have students create a list of things that symbolize baseball and other items they would include on the float. Then using a shoe box and lid students will decorate the top of the box with items they brainstormed previously. Students may bring items from home to decorate and use butcher or construction paper as well.

Related web sites/blogs
Baseball Poetry
J. Patrick Lewis Poetry and Riddles
Baseball poems, poetry & songs
Poetry tools
Funny Poetry for Kids
Types of Poetry
Casey at the bat

Related books
Poetry related to Baseball                              
Bing, Christopher. 2000. Ernest L. Thayer’s Casey at the bat: a ballad of the Republic sung in the year 1888.  by Christopher Bing. Handprint Books.
Thayer L. Ernest. 2006. Casey at the bat.  by Joe Morse. KCP Poetry.
Gutman, Dan. 2007. Casey back at bat.  by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. Harper Collins.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1993. Extra Innings: Baseball Poems.  by Scott Medlock. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers.
Maddox, Marjorie. 2009. Rules of the game: baseball poems. by John Sandford. Wordsong.
Morrison, Lillian. At The Crack of the Bat: Baseball Poems. by Lilian Morrison and Steve Cieslawski.

Nonfiction Literature Related to Baseball                         
DeGezelle, Terri. 2006. Let’s play baseball!  By Terri DeGezelle. Capstone Press.
Green, Michelle Y. 2002. A strong right arm: the story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson. Dial Books for Young Readers.
Thomas, Keltie. 2004. How Baseball Works.  by Greg Hall. Maple Tree Press.
Moss, Marissa. 2004. Mighty Jackie: The strike out queen. Simon & Schuster.

Fiction Children’s Literature about Baseball                    
Preller, James. 2009. Mightly Casey. By Matthew Cordell.  Feiwel and Friends.
Herzog, Brad. 2004. H is for Home Run: A Baseball Alphabet. by Melanie Rose. sleeping Bear Press.
McGrath, Barbara Barbieri. 1999. The baseball counting book. by Brian Shawn. Charlesbridge Publications.
Northworth, Jack. 2011. Take me out to the ball game. by Amiko Hirao. Imagine, a Charlesbridge Imprint.
Sederman, Marty. 2008. Casey and Derek on the ice.  By Zachary Pullen.  Chronicle Books.
Adler, David A. 2003. Mama played baseball. by Chris O’Leary.  Gulliver Books.
Ritter, H. John. 2005. The boy who saved baseball.  Puffin Books.

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