Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup #1. Candlewick Press (Feb. 2006) Library
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.

Kevin Boland, your typical adolescent boy finds himself stuck at home sick with mono for the next couple of months. To him his life is over if he can't play baseball but with the prospect of being bored to death if he doesn't figure something out he decides with the help of one of his dad's poetry books to start writing. He explores the world of different types of poetry and different types of ways to express himself. 

This is basically like all the other verse books I've read lately. I don't know why but it bothers me that it doesn't rhyme all the time. It seems like cheating. It's like the writer put a story together and made it look like a poem with it actually being a poem. That's only when he's talking about what is going on with his life. Other times he wrote different types of poetry, some I didn't even know like what is a pantoum? I'm still not sure what that is. It's not a really big deal if it doesn't rhyme all the time. I just expect something and get something else.

I do love sports books but this isn't really about sports. Kevin does talk about missing baseball but it's mostly about his discovery of something new that not necessarily a boy "likes" because everyone would make fun of him if he did. Yet Kevin stands by his likes of baseball and poetry. He's actually a pretty good kid so his likability factor is high. He does talk about girls and making out with them a lot. I never really thought fourteen year old boys thought girls were cute or got around that much when they are so young. He's talking about a lot of ex-girlfriends and that seems strange and funny at the same time. 

Overall: This verse book was alright. It didn't wow me or anything but it was a nice, light read.

Ron Koertge has another very different book about what really happened in all our favorite fairy tale stories: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses.


  1. I like the cover and would expect this to be a baseball book. I have only read one book in verse so far (well- one chapter book). This sounds like a different book. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I feel the same way about verse! It can be a very frustrating way to read a book because it's really distracting. I love that he thinks his life is over because he has to stay home for a couple of months. That's just like a boy. :)

  3. I haven't tried a book in verse yet. I like when things rhyme- so this could be a problem for me. ;) Thanks for letting me know about this one.


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