Thursday, January 16, 2014
Shakespeare Bats Cleanup: A Review
Info: Candlewick Press, copyright 2006, 116 pages
A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Kevin discovers a whole world outside of baseball and finds out that he might just be an athlete and a poet.
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.
I think I've been working with non-reading teens for too long. As I perused the shelves at my library, I was on the lookout for the shortest book I could find :) When I saw the skinny spine of Shakespeare Bats Cleanup and then opened it to find a novel in verse, I knew this was the book for me.
Poetry can be intimidating and unfamiliar, but discovered and explored through the eyes of a young teenage boy, poetry all the sudden becomes accessible and interesting. Mr. Boland, in a pretty fantastic move, gives his sick son a journal...just in case he wants to write something down. Through each poem you get a glimpse of Kevin's life. You find out how he's mourning his mother, what it feels like to not be playing baseball, and the intricate game of courting in school.
Poetry still isn't my thing. But Koertge makes it kind of not, not my thing. That makes absolutely no sense, but that's okay. Hopefully you get my drift :)
If you're looking for something short, but quality, check out Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge.