By Ron Koertge
Published by Candlewick Press
Copyright © 2010
“Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs,” the sequel to “Shakespeare Bats Cleanup,” gives new meaning to the phrase “Poetry in Motion” with its fluid use of poetic styles to tell the story of Kevin Boland and his mixed up life of baseball, poetry, grief, and love.
Kevin Boland is a baseball player who, just like his dad, loves to write poetry. However, his friends don’t seem to be too interested in this new passion of his. His girlfriend Mira is especially uninterested in Kevin’s writing talent, the only things on her mind seem to be looking good, saving the planet, and annoying her dad. Sometimes Kevin wonders why he is with Mira considering her apparent disinterest not only in poetry but also in his first love, baseball. But of course his friends happily remind him that it is because she is really cute.
What Kevin soon realizes is that relationships can be confusing and occasionally difficult. His Dad is beginning to date again after the death of his mom, some of classmates are boy/girl crazy, and he meets a girl his age that is into poetry too. He meets Amy at a poetry reading at the Book Bungelow and they hit it off, because they have a shared interest in the written word. This of course doesn’t sit well with Mira, and Kevin has a hard time deciding between the two.
This book is right up my alley. I love baseball. I love poetry. I love the way that Koertge shows not that poetry not only expresses a feeling but also tells a story. In addition, poetry doesn’t have to be serious. The poetry about Kevin’s life is a little more serious, but the monster poetry that Kevin and Amy are working on together are just fun. It is wonderful to show that poetry can be fun.
Though Koertge is in his 70’s he writes the relationships of the young so well. He just seems to have understanding of the language of youth. It isn’t all about slang; it’s about how they think and react. Teens and tweens are constantly falling in and out of love and they can be very dramatic and eccentric. Koertge captures that perfectly, especially with Mira and Becca, however he doesn’t just chalk it up to hormones he gives a nod to the stresses that kids are going under. Some of Koertge’s characters are dealing with fighting parents, death, and bullies. And to be able to express all this in poetic form is just amazing.
This book, and its predecessor, are great books to help spread the joy of poetry with children 11 and up. It introduces readers to various poetic forms without being too stuffy about it, and it tells a story that they will be able to relate to.