Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs
by Ron Koertge
About the book:
In this much-anticipated sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, fourteen-year-old Kevin Boland has it pretty good. He’s got a cute girlfriend named Mira, his baseball team is headed to the playoffs, and he seems to have a real knack for writing poetry. So why isn’t he happy? Maybe it’s because his cute girlfriend can’t tell a sonnet from a sestina, and doesn’t show up to any of his games. So when Kevin meets fellow poet Amy at an open mike reading, it’s love at first refrain. But Amy has a boyfriend. And Kevin has Mira. What’s a budding poet to do?
Ron Koertge is the author of many acclaimed novels for young adults, including Stoner & Spaz (winner of the PEN Literary Award), The Brimstone Journals, Strays, (also winner of the PEN Literary Award) and Shakespeare Bats Cleanup. A faculty member for more than thirty-five years at Pasadena City College, where he taught everything from Shakespeare to remedial writing, Ron Koertge also writes poetry for adults and currently teaches at Hamline University, in the MFA in Writing for Children Program. He lives in South Pasadena, California.
- After reading the first five poems list everything you know and everything you suspect you know about the main character, Kevin Boland. Do you think the poetry format makes it easier or more difficult for the reader to get to know Kevin? Why?
- How does Kevin compare poetry to a bully in “Poetry 101?” Can you find any perfect mistakes in the poems in this book too? How has Kevin’s poetry changed from the first book?
- What things, people and activities are most important to Kevin? Why is his glove really important to him? Is there anything that is that important to you? Why?
- Compare Longfellow’s original poem to Kevin’s parody of it set in school. Does this sound like your school or not? Why?
- How do Kevin and his dad deal with their grief? How does he personify grief in the poem, “I Know What Dad’s Going Through”
- Who is Mr. B? Would you like to be in his class or not? Why? What does he teach Kevin about poetry?
- Write your own nightmare poem inspired by “Nightmares About Different Kinds of Gals” How does this reveal what Kevin thinks about his dad dating again? What would be the hardest part of this for you?
- Kevin admits, “I take refuge in poetry.” What or who gives you refuge? Do you think this changes over time?
- Describe Kevin’s relationship with Mira. Is it enviable? What makes a good teen romance? What requirements are necessary? Which ones are optional?
- Explain how Kevin becomes friends with Amy. What does this relationship offer that his one with Mira does not? How do things progress between them?
- What does Kevin love about baseball? Do you think poetry or baseball gives him more confidence? Why?
- How does Amy’s haiku reveal a lot about her in only seventeen syllables? Can you write one that does so?
- How do Amy and Kevin’s poems go public? Would you put yourself out there at a reading or website? Why or why not?
- How does Kevin plan to use “hard work, cold water and no girls” to advance his career? Is this plausible? How much time would you have if you could give up thoughts of romance?
- Does Amy love dating Trevor? Why? Would you want to be involved with someone that everyone else admires? What could be difficult about it? What would be nice?
- What poetry forms are discussed in the novel? Have you tried any of these forms before? Which one do you think is most difficult? Interesting? Which of all the poems that Kevin and Amy write is your favorite? Why?
- Does creating and sharing poems seem more important even intimate than the relationship that Kevin shares with Mira? How? What can poetry reveal that other things cannot?
- Who is Morton Gluck? What is the best way to deal with a bully like him? Are there bullies in every school? How can schools help deal with them?
- Do you think Kevin should’ve revealed to Mira that he was going to the monster movies with Amy? Would it be worse to find out or just be told?
- In the end do you think Kevin is better off? Why does Amy, at first, want to remain friends? Is it a valid concern? Predict what you think will happen between them.