Take UK basketball and mix it with the nursery rhyme of the house that Jack built, and what do you get? For two educators, the result was a children's book called UK Built Blue (Athlegacy Publishing, $16.95).
The authors donated 500 copies of the book, first published in 2013, to the Baptist Health Lexington for the families of babies born during March Madness.
Peggy Cullen and Judy Halasek met while teaching in Scott County. They started working on the children's book in 2009 in their spare time, on Sunday nights and snow days, aiming their book at read-aloud adults and early readers.
"We thought, 'There's nothing 'UK' for kids that age," Halasek said.
The This is the House that Jack Built motif, in which story details are added to a sentence of increasing complexity, is a good one for beginning readers, she said. "Kids love repetitive patterns."
An example of the text is: "This is the jump/that came after the whistle that started the game/that was played in the house/the Cats built."
Cullen is a teacher at Glendover Elementary who attended UK and graduated from Midway College in 2004. Halasek is a reading interventionist for the Kentucky Department of Education. She graduated from UK in 1980.
The book is interactive, meaning the paper is engineered so the reader can dunk, sort of, twirl a ball and look up all the dates of Kentucky's previous NCAA championships. The interactive illustration is of a Kentucky Wildcat jumping over a red-clad opponent.
Other Lexington hospitals have gotten into March Madness, too. University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital is giving its newborns Wildcat onesies; at KentuckyOne Health hospitals, including the one in London and the Saint Joseph Women's Hospital in Lexington, families of newborns are being offered tiny Wildcat blue-and-white knit caps.
The authors of Built Blue were in the middle of writing the book when the UK men's basketball team won the national championship by beating Kansas. Because one section of the book is dedicated to revealing the scores of all UK's championship games, the book had to be revamped.
The two authors are now working on a UK football book targeted for even younger children.
The book is available at Joseph-Beth Booksellers and shops including the Toy Shop, Wildcat Wearhouse and Alumni Hall.
Although the style of the book mirrors the rhyme of This is the House That Jack Built, Cullen says that the house the Cats built "is a better house."