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Off the Shelf Shop: Bats at the Ballgame

Bats at the Ballgame

by Brian Lies

Hello everyone!

What could be more summer than baseball? Whether you are a baseball fan or not, Bats at the Ballgame is a fun adventure to share with your young reader. Join the bats as they swoop through the nine innings of joy and drama of a baseball game, bat-style. As in Bats at the Library, every reading will reveal new delightful details in the illustrations, from a bat-ified MLB logo to a reference to Lou Gherig. 

Although the All-Star Game marked the halfway point of this year's season, there is still plenty of time to enjoy America's favorite summer pastime. Bat-ter up!

In this Issue


Cricket Jack

If you look closely at the illustrations you will see the bats enjoy boxes of Cricket Jack, complete with antenne coming out of the box. Here's a recipe for making your own Cricket Jack, minus the antennae but including chocolate covered "crickets" (actually chocolate covered cranberries) for a sweet addition to the original classic. 

Cricket Jack (Homemade Cracker Jack) - Bats at the Ballgame - Off the Shelf


Cricket Jack

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and The Kitchn.


  • 10 cups plain popped popcorn
    (from 1/2 cup corn kernels; check out How to Make Stovetop Popcorn from Cookie and Kate.)
  • 1 cup roasted, lightly salted peanuts
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate covered cranberries

To make Cricket Jack

  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  2. Place popcorn in a large bowl or pot and stir in peanuts.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, water, and salt. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Once boiling, cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda and vanilla.
  4. Pour caramel over popcorn and use a rubber spatula to stir until popcorn and peanuts are well coated. Divide between prepared baking sheets and bake for 50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. 
  5. Let popcorn mixture cool completely before stirring in chocolate covered "crickets" (cranberries).


Fastball Painting

Let your young reader show off his or her pitching arm with this cotton ball throwing painting activity. Whether the cotton ball are pitched overhand, underhand, or dropped from above, the SPLAT creates a fun effect for a great outdoor project. We used the steps on a swing set for a makeshift easel but the paper can be taped to a fence or whatever surface you have available, or laid flat on the ground. 

Fastball Painting - Bats at the Ballgame - Off the Shelf

Fastball Painting - Bats at the Ballgame - Off the Shelf

Fastball Painting - Bats at the Ballgame - Off the Shelf

Fastball Painting - Bats at the Ballgame - Off the Shelf

Fastball Painting - Bats at the Ballgame - Off the Shelf

Fastball Painting


  • Paper or posterboard
  • Paint
  • Cotton balls
  • Containers for paint
  • Water
  1. Hang or place paper in desired manner (see note above). 
  2. Pour paint into container and thin with water to a watery consistency. 
  3. Dip cotton ball in paint and toss at paper. Repeat as desired!

P.S. Youngest readers can stand above paper and drop paint-dipped cotton balls at paper. 


More from Off the Shelf

More Bats: Stellaluna

More Biran Lies: Bats at the Library 


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Almost Unschoolers

We love all those bat books - the whole series - and I LOVE that you made cricket-jack. Absolutely fabulous!

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