Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

4.0 2
by Ron Koertge

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Fielding his social life is a bigger challenge for Kevin than hitting a fastball in Ron Koertge’s funny, insightful sequel to SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP.

Fourteen-year-old Kevin Boland has a passion for playing baseball, a knack for writing poetry — and a cute girlfriend named Mira who’s not much interested in either. But then, Kevin doesn&

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Fielding his social life is a bigger challenge for Kevin than hitting a fastball in Ron Koertge’s funny, insightful sequel to SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP.

Fourteen-year-old Kevin Boland has a passion for playing baseball, a knack for writing poetry — and a cute girlfriend named Mira who’s not much interested in either. But then, Kevin doesn’t exactly share Mira’s newfound fervor for all things green. So when Kevin signs up for open mike night at Bungalow Books and meets Amy, a girl who knows a sonnet from a sestina and can match his emails verse for verse, things start to get sticky. Should he stay with Mira? Or risk spoiling his friendship with Amy by asking her out? Ron Koertge, master of snappy dialogue and a deft poet, offers a fast-paced, sympathetic story that interweaves two narrative voices with humor and warmth.

Editorial Reviews

Mary Quattlebaum
In this novel-in-poems, author Ron Koertge successfully couples the tension and drive of a good story with the imagery and compression of fine poetry. He cuts against the stereotypes of dumb jocks and Goth poets to create a smart, every-guy protagonist whose down-to-earth voice and contemporary concerns refresh centuries-old poetic forms such as the villanelle, couplet, limerick and haiku. With this book, Koertge steps up to the plate—two outs, bases loaded—and stylistically knocks it out of the park.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Dedicated to “the readers of Shakespeare Bats Cleanup who wanted to know what happened next,” this follow-up finds Kevin Boland recovered from the mono that sidelined him in the previous book, ready to resume play at first base and continue his relationship with pretty, earnest Mira, now his girlfriend. Complications ensue when Mira fails to show an interest in baseball or poetry and, at an open mike night, Kevin meets Amy, a bookstore owner's daughter who needs help with her haiku. The strength of both books is the seamless way Koertge shows how Kevin processes guilt, excitement, and uncertainty: with his pen. For Kevin, whose mother has died recently, writing is thinking. “Sadness is a big dark bus/ with a schedule of its own,” he writes in a poignant poem about the grief he shares with his father, a well-drawn, easy-to-like character. Kevin's ready acknowledgment of his feelings and facility with words are what make him appealing to Amy—and to readers. Their poetic pas de deux, a budding romance built by swapping villanelles, pantoums, and sestinas, is both funny and charming. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7–9—Kevin's major interests are baseball and his girlfriend, Mira, in that order. In this warm and funny sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup (Candlewick, 2003), the 14-year-old journals in various poetic forms under the supportive tutelage of his widowed father, who is also a poet. Conflicts include Kevin's increasing distance from Mira and her environmental activism, as well as Dad's relationship with a woman named Anna. A poetry reading introduces Kevin to Amy, but her all-too-perfect boyfriend seems to have a lock on her heart. All's well that ends well, the Bard wrote, and whether readers are meeting Kevin for the first time or have already read the first book, they are likely to enjoy both the accessible story and Kevin's struggles with some demanding poetic structures. And it's very likely they'll be tempted to stretch their own writing in response.—Joel Shoemaker, South East Junior High School, Iowa City, IA
Kirkus Reviews
For Kevin, baseball is a refuge in which he can lose himself to the intricacies and flow of the game. While on the field, he can briefly put aside his grief over his mother's death and his conflicted feelings about his father's decision to see other women. And then there's his own confusion about his cute girlfriend Mira and his new relationship with Amy, who shares his love of poetry. All of these emotions are laid bare in the poems he writes in the journal he began while recovering from mononucleosis (Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, 2006). He and Amy also text each other in poetry, expressing their feelings and longings with honesty and humor while experimenting with sestina, haiku, sonnets, limericks and more. Kevin and his friends are multilayered characters who are quirky and eccentric but also totally believable. There are no neat endings or miracles. Koertge masterfully leads readers to accept that people-yes, even teenagers-can be individuals, and that baseball and poetry are not necessarily at opposite ends of the spectrum. Well done. (Fiction/poetry. 12 & up)
Children's Literature - Summer Whiting
Kevin Boland is not a typical teen. He loves to play baseball and has a girlfriend, but he also has a passion for writing poetry. He has certainly earned his nickname, Shakespeare. His father provides a new journal one day after practice, and so begins the reader's glimpse into Kevin's teenage angst. Although he really does care for his girlfriend, Mira, sometimes it feels more like a chore to maintain the relationship. She is also completely unaware of poetry and connecting with Kevin. Ever since his mother died, his life has centered on his connection with his father—until his father tells Kevin that he is bringing a new "friend" to the next open mike. Open-mike night proves worthwhile after all, when Kevin meets Amy, another teen poet. Through this story written in haiku, blank verse, and couplets, readers feel privileged to be a part of Kevin's life. Whether he is dealing with his father's decision to throw out his mother's belongings or his indecision over two female possibilities, readers willingly go along for the ride. Koertge clearly is an expert in portraying the teenage experience. This novel would make an excellent addition to a middle school language arts class, not only because of the poetry aspect but also because of the sheer brilliance in relating to teenage life. Readers might not speak in poetic verse, but they will recognize that they are not alone as they grapple with their own life experiences. Reviewer: Summer Whiting

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel like this book was unnecessary. The first one has heart and it is sweet and fresh and just... good. It's one of those books that you can re-read over and over again because it's short enough and has the right amount of depth and humor. This one... sometimes it's good but mostly it's just kind of bland. I wish I hadn't read it because it ruins the first one.