Candlewick Press

March 2006

$14.95 AU

116p pb

ISBN: 978-0763629397

fp March 2003

followed by Shakespeare Makes The Playoffs

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup

Ron Koertge

from the book...

At fourteen, Kevin Boland is a straight-talking MVP first batsman who can't tell a ballad from a salad. But when he is diagnosed with mono and is forced to spend months at home recuperating, Kevin secretly borrows his father's poetry book and starts writing, just to pass the time. Inside the book Kevin discovers more than haiku and sonnets. He gains insight - sometimes humorous, sometimes painful - as he records his candid observations on junior-high romance, daydreams of baseball stardom, and sorrow over the recent death of his mother.

In this funny and poignant novel in free verse, Ron Koertge lets us witness firsthand how the right words can open doors to the soul.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A

When I received Shakespeare Bats Cleanup to review I was eager to read it as I had enjoyed Ron Koertge’s previous books such as Stoner & Spaz, The Brimstone Journals and The Arizona  Kid. I was even happier to find that it was a verse novel. This time his book is targeted at a younger audience and is about 14 year old Kevin Boland who loves baseball, but when diagnosed with mononucleosis is forced to give baseball a miss for a while. This is when he discovers poetry!

A little reminiscent of Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup similarly includes various forms of poetry within the text. Koertge cleverly interweaves many poetry forms within the story in a sophisticated and entertaining way. The secrecy of Kevin’s poems rings true – he is a baseball star not a poetry writer or so he thinks, but as the poems develop they help him deal with the changes in his life, including the death of his mother, his illness, his relationship with his father and his burgeoning romance with Mira.

If you have not discovered the joy of the verse novel then there is no better start than Ron Koertge’s Shakespeare Bats Cleanup.

Stephen, Canberra, Australia

What happens when a straight-talking first baseman takes a shot at poetry?

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is about a 14 year old boy named Kevin Boland. Kevin is known to be a baseball champion until he gets diagnosed with mono which makes him find another one of his hidden talents called poetry. He finds this hidden talent by secretly reading his father’s poetry book and through this, not only does his time pass quickly but he also discovers different ways of writing  poetry from haiku and many other ways of writing poetry. He writes about the painful sorrow moments of his mother's death, his view on different matters including baseball and also the dreams and experiences he had through the baseball years.

Through writing poetry his book becomes a diary of everyday happenings, until he gets better and is strong enough to go out and enjoy baseball again. But baseball doesn’t stop his love and passion for poetry or his everyday diary writing. He goes back and finds he's a champion at both baseball and poetry.

His poetry talent makes him feel embarrassed and he doesn’t tell anyone about it, not even his father. Days and weeks go pass and his friend Mira finds out Kevin is a poetry writer and she helps him build up his confidence so he is less embarrassed about writing poetry and also not being ashamed of it.

I personally would recommend this book to readers over the age of 12 because it has teen, realistic and romance issues.

Sarah, age 15, Canberra, Australia

“What happens when a straight-talking first baseman takes a swing at writing poetry”, this is the tagline to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup. What happens is a fantastic story about a boy, Kevin, taking a stab at poetry. Kevin is diagnosed with mono and has to stay in bed for a few weeks, during this time he borrows his dad’s poetry book, without him knowing. From this book he learns about the many types of poetry, like haiku, when there are five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second, five syllables in the third line and so on, and so forth. He then starts to writes some poetry in a journal book his father gave him. Towards the end of Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, Kevin meets a girl called Mira; she is intrigued with his poetry. Kevin tends to like Mira. In the end you don’t really get a clear answer of what’s happening with Kevin and Mira but you do get the impression that they really do like each other. Kevin ends Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by thanking the readers for staying with him on this long, poetic journey.

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is truly one of the best verse novels I have ever read. It really opened my eyes to the world of poetry and I very much recommend this to any aspiring poets or anyone who loves a good read. Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is written by Ron Koertge and I can’t wait to read any other books he’s written.

Brady, Year 9, Canberra, Australia

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is a verse novel by Rom Koertge that is set in present time America. Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is about a young 14 year old boy named Kevin Boland who lives with his dad. Kevin enjoys nothing more but to play first base for his local team, until he comes down with a bad case of mononucleosis and is benched for a few weeks. During his few weeks in his bed he turned to writing down his thoughts on a notepad that his dad had bought for him. These words turned to poems and before he knew it, he was hooked on writing poems! Mira is a young girl who is hooked on Kevin’s poetry. Before long Mira is inviting Kevin over to her family gatherings, and the two become good friends.

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is recommended for any verse novel lovers and/or poets in the making of any age. I really enjoyed reading it but before I knew it the book was over! Ron Koertge is an extremely talented author and I look forward to reading his future verse novels.

Darryn, age 14, Canberra, Australia

Back to verse novels list