Shakespeare Bats Cleanup

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup

by Ron Koertge


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Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge

"This funny and poignant novel celebrates the power of writing to help young people make sense of their lives and unlock and confront their problems." — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

When MVP Kevin Boland gets the news that he has mono and won’t be seeing a baseball field for a while, he suddenly finds himself scrawling a poem down the middle of a page in his journal. To get some help, he cops a poetry book from his dad’s den - and before Kevin knows it, he’s writing in verse about stuff like, Will his jock friends give up on him? What’s the deal with girlfriends? Surprisingly enough, after his health improves, he keeps on writing, about the smart-talking Latina girl who thinks poets are cool, and even about his mother, whose death is a still-tender loss. Written in free verse with examples of several poetic forms slipped into the mix, including a sonnet, haiku, pastoral, and even a pantoum, this funny, poignant story by a master of dialogue is an English teacher’s dream - sure to hook poetry lovers, baseball fanatics, mono recoverers, and everyone in between.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780763629397
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication date: 02/14/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 208,051
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.35(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Ron Koertge, the author of several acclaimed novels for young adults -
including STONER & SPAZ and THE BRIMSTONE JOURNALS - has been a faculty member for more than thirty-five years at Pasadena City College, where he has taught everything from Shakespeare to remedial writing. He also writes poetry for adults. Of SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP, he says, "I find it funny that kids will willingly follow the rules in any game, but if you give them rules for writing poetry, they rebel!"

Read an Excerpt

Their pitcher walks our leadoff man. Greg moves him up to second with a perfect sacrifice. Fabian loops one into right.

I'm up. Two on, one out. I'm the cleanup man. My job is to bring these guys home.

I take a pitch. Foul one off. Take a strike.
Their left fielder drifts in.

Bam! I lift one right over his head. A double!
Two runs score. I slide into second. Safe!

That's what I'm thinking, anyway, propped up in bed with some dumb book.

Than Dad comes in and says, "The doctor called. Your tests came back. You've got mono."

"So I can't play ball."

He pats my knee. "You can't even go to school, Kevin. You need to take it real easy."

He hands me a journal, one of those marbly black-and-white ones he likes.

"You're gonna have a lot of time on your hands. Maybe you'll feel like writing something down."


Being sick is like taking a trip, isn't it?
Going to another country, sort of.
A country nobody wants to visit.
A country named Fevertown.
Or Virusburg. Or Germ Corners.

The border guards are glum-looking,
with runny noses and pasty skin. Their uniforms don't fit and flap open in the back so you can see their big, ugly butts.

Nobody wants to go there, but everybody does, sooner or later.

And some stay.


Dad's never talked to me about writing before. He's not nuts to have me be just like him.

Len Boggs has a dad like that. It's been
Boggs & Son ever since Lennie was about two seconds old.

They're plumbers. "Got clogs? Call Boggs!"
Don't laugh. Their vans are all over the place. They're rich.

And Len hates it.

Lennie's fourteen, like me. He doesn't know what he wants to do when he grows up. Maybe go in the Marines. Maybe play the cello.

But he for sure doesn't want to be a plumber.

His dad is already on his case, riding him about it.

I think mine's just trying to be nice.


Well, not exactly. Dad's here, that's why we don't have to get somebody to come in and take care of me.

First of all, I don't need much care. I sleep all the time, or at least it feels that way.

Dad works at home. He and I pass each other in the hall—
I in my sweats, he in his cap.

When I was little and I got sick, Mom used to read to me.

Thinking about that's not going to help.


Why am I writing down the middle of the page?

It kind of looks like poetry, but no way is it poetry. It's just stuff.

So I tiptoe into the den and cop this book of Dad's.

It feels weird smuggling something about poetry up to my room like it's the new

But I don't want Dad to know what I'm doing yet. Even though I'm not doing anything. Not really.

I'm just going to fool around a little,
see what's what poetry-wise.


I thought I'd start small. I kind of remember haiku from school last year.
I at least remember they're little.

But, man—I never saw so many frogs in the moonlight. And leaves. Leaves all over the place.

Weren't there any gardeners in ancient
Japan? Weren't there any cats and dogs?

Still, haiku look easy. Sort of. Five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, five in the third.

Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs.
Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs.
Frogs, frogs, frogs, frogs, leaves.

Very funny, Kevin.

At least I finished it. I can't finish anything else, except my nap. Seventeen syllables is just about right for somebody with my reduced stamina. Perfect thing for an invalid.

Oh, man—look at that: IN VALID. I never saw that before.

Just a single space in a word I thought I knew made the difference.


SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP by Ron Koertge. Copyright (c) 2006 by Ron Koertge. Published by Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.

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Shakespeare Bats Cleanup 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story I read is about a boy that played baseball and then he got mono so he can not play baseball. So he stays home to get better so he can not go out side or go to school and he doesn¿t get to see his friends. When he is sick he starts to write poetry and then he gets better and goes back to school and if you want to find out what happens, read the book. I like the way it is written and what it is about.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I actuly enjoyed this book and theres not many that draw my attention like this one. Positives- 1)This held my attention until the end (most books can not do that). 2)Its about baseball which is the best sport im sure everyone knew that. 3)Its also about english which is what class im doing this for and its a plus for anyone who likes baseball and needs to do a book report. 4)Its funny and not to many books that have english in it is fun to read, reading, period, is hardly ever fun but this one was. This book was up there with the top books i have ever read, i highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is about a teenage baseball-obsessed boy who suddenly finds himself out of the game with mono. His father is a writer, and gives him a journal to write in while he is in bed. He sneaks a book of poetry out of his father's study (it would ruin his image if anybody knew) and begins to record his thoughts and feelings about baseball, girls, and his mother's death while mimicking the various styles of poetry he discovers in the book. It is a sneaky way to get adolescents to understand the different forms of poetry while telling a humorous and heart-warming story of self-discovery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is a super cute book. A young boy realizes it's okay to enjoy what he truely loves. I reccomend it to all ages. It is very short and easy to comprehend. YAY for reading SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel brought an interesting perspective from a boy in about the eighth grade. He talks about baseball and poetry a lot and he tells about his life and whats going on. It is a very easy read and I would reccomend it to grades 6-8, possibly younger. I had an extremely easy time reading it and you probably will too.