cover image Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

Ron Koertge, . . Candlewick, $15.99 (170pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-4435-2

Dedicated to “the readers of Shakespeare Bats Cleanup who wanted to know what happened next,” this follow-up finds Kevin Boland recovered from the mono that sidelined him in the previous book, ready to resume play at first base and continue his relationship with pretty, earnest Mira, now his girlfriend. Complications ensue when Mira fails to show an interest in baseball or poetry and, at an open mike night, Kevin meets Amy, a bookstore owner's daughter who needs help with her haiku. The strength of both books is the seamless way Koertge shows how Kevin processes guilt, excitement, and uncertainty: with his pen. For Kevin, whose mother has died recently, writing is thinking. “Sadness is a big dark bus/ with a schedule of its own,” he writes in a poignant poem about the grief he shares with his father, a well-drawn, easy-to-like character. Kevin's ready acknowledgment of his feelings and facility with words are what make him appealing to Amy—and to readers. Their poetic pas de deux, a budding romance built by swapping villanelles, pantoums, and sestinas, is both funny and charming. Ages 12–up. (Mar.)