Ron Koertge Blog Tour

Friday March 12, 2010

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup
February 2006
Candlewick Press
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.

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs
March 9, 2010
Candlewick Press
Fielding his social life is a bigger challenge for Kevin than hitting a fastball in Ron Koertge’s funny, insightful sequel to SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP.

Fourteen-year-old Kevin Boland has a passion for playing baseball, a knack for writing poetry — and a cute girlfriend named Mira who’s not much interested in either. But then, Kevin doesn’t exactly share Mira’s newfound fervor for all things green. So when Kevin signs up for open mike night at Bungalow Books and meets Amy, a girl who knows a sonnet from a sestina and can match his emails verse for verse, things start to get sticky. Should he stay with Mira? Or risk spoiling his friendship with Amy by asking her out? 

Ron Koertge, master of snappy dialogue and a deft poet, offers a fast-paced, sympathetic story that interweaves two narrative voices with humor and warmth.

As a teacher and librarian it is always awesome when authors write books that can be used in the classroom. There are great examples of all different types of poetry here:
  • Pantoum
  • Blank Verse
  • Haiku
  • Couplets
  • Sestina
  • Elegy
and much more! Both books have wonderful, fluid story lines and it is awesome to watch Kevin (who strictly identified himself as an athlete) discover the magic of poetry.

I recommend this book for any parent, teacher or librarian who wants to have books about poetry that are great for reluctant readers because lets face it, telling a kid that you have a great book about poetry for them will probably result in a look of slight terror.

At a non-imposing 115 pages, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup is an easy sell because it has sports for the guys and a little romance for the girls. For those kids who enjoy a tear-jerker there is also plenty of poetry/story line about Kevin's mom who has passed away and how he and his father are dealing with it.

I've recently dedicated a whole section in my library to books written in prose. You would be surprised how many there are out there and these two books will be part of the star attraction. Get these books now, seriously....with video games, TV, iPhones and everything else, kids are being exposed to things like poetry less and less. Who knows, maybe the kid you give these books to will be our next great poet!

Review copy sent by publisher and donated to school library. 


max said...

It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

My blog, Books for Boys is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading. And my new book, Lost Island Smugglers - first in the Sam Cooper Adventure Series - is coming out in June. Contracts are also signed for Captain Jack's Treasure and River Rampage.

Keep up your good work.

Max Elliot Anderson
PS. My first 7 books are going to be republished by Comfort Publishing later in 2010

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