Friday, February 26, 2010

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs by Ron Koertge

This will be a dual review!
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: Shakespeare Bats Cleanup: 2/14/2006, Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs: 3/9/2010
About the Books: 14-year-old Kevin is stuck at home with Mono, which means he's not allowed to play any baseball. To pass the time, he starts to write. First he writes so it looks like poetry, then he begins to take an interest in poetry and explores different types of poems. He writes about his mom's death, baseball, and life in middle school. He also meets Mira, a new girl in school that makes him not want to hide the fact that he's a writer.
In Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs, Kevin is back. He's grown more confident in his
writing, he's dating Mira, and he's playing baseball. But when Kevin meets Amy at a poetry reading, he can't stop thinking about her-but that's not right-he has Mira! Why should he care that Amy understands his poems and Mira doesn't? On top of his own dating confusion, Kevin's dad is starting to date again.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: These books are why I love my job. Just this week I had a patron come in looking for a book of poetry for her son. His assignment was to identify the different types of poems that were written. I immediately took her over to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and handed it to her. I mentioned how Kevin writes different styles of poems and talks about the various styles, how they work, but the poems were all connected into one big story. She grabbed it and said "this will be perfect!"
I have to hand it to Ron Koertge. He's a tricky author-he gets his reader to learn about poetry without letting them know they're learning. And he pulls it off in a way that will grab your attention and make you care about what you're reading. I think these books should be required reading in English class poetry units.
Kevin's observations about middle school life, romance and friendships are spot on and will resonate with readers. It's been a long time since I was in middle school (thank goodness!) but I found myself nodding along and remembering exactly what those days were like. The books also touch on tougher issues like Kevin's mom's death and his dad's dating. But these never bog down the book and make it feel "issue heavy." There's lots of humor to keep readers laughing as well, which helps the books feel lighter and move quickly.

Hand these over to readers who enjoy sports, poetry or a mix of both. Because as Kevin proves, you can be an athlete and a writer!

Be sure to check out my interview with Ron Koertge.

Full Disclosure: The first book I bought at the library booksale and it was in my personal collection. The second was sent to me by the publicist for review for a blog tour.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing these books. I'd never heard of them before. I will definately be looking for them now. I love that they include poetry. I'm just now doing a poetry unit with my 7th graders and these would've been great to use!

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  2. Just reserved both of these at the library. They look great. Thanks for sharing!

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