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"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green


Shakespeare Bats Cleanup (Review)

TitleShakespeare Bats Cleanup
Author(s)Ron Koertge

Edition: Hardcover, 116 pages
PublisherCandlewick Press

Publication Date: March 1, 2003
Source: Borrowed from library
BuyAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

The Summary
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.

My Opinion
I finally read Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, which is the first companion novel (and first book) to Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs.  Luckily since these books are in verse, going backwards worked out.  The first book was just as enjoyable as the second, and I'm so glad I got to pick it up.

Here we meet Kevin in the throes of mono.  Since he can't play baseball, his dad gives him a journal to use while he's stuck in bed.  At first he doesn't write much, but one day he scribbles a poem down.  After swiping a book on the art of poetry from hi dad, Kevin is hooked.  Using poems as an outlet, Kevin writes about the joys and fears in his life.

The balance Koertge manages in this book is great.  The love of baseball and the growing passion for poetry that Kevin has is articulated perfectly.  There is a push/pull happening in Kevin's mind while deciding if baseball or poetry is what he wants that is expressed using poems beautifully.  With the ability to express the concrete and the figurative, I don't think the reader would get the same perspective and feeling if the book was written in verse.

On top of the story, as Kevin learns the different forms of poetry, so does the reader.  This makes the book an excellent tool to use in the classroom.  Another home run for Ron Koertge, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is definitely a book I'd recommend for reluctant male readers during a poetry unit, as well as a great book for everyone.

Author Interview

Final Rating
Book Cover: 5/5
Book Title: 5/5
Plot: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Ending: 9/10
Overall: 45/50: A-

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