Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs by Ron Koertge is the sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup. If you like poetry, baseball and realistic fiction both these books are for you. I feel that they are gender free meaning boys or girls will enjoy these books. In Playoff main character Kevin Boland is in 8th grade and really enjoying life including playing baseball, having a cute girlfriend and still writing a lot of poetry ( a skill he developed in the first book). Then along comes Amy. In ways you would not expect and told in prose poetry you will laugh, sigh and ponder right along with Kevin while he navigates baseball season, and his friends. Kevin's relationship with his dad continues to be a wonderful part of the story as well. It is always good to see great dad characters show up in realistic fiction!
Sorry but no cover art for the next book.
Bystander by James Preller is also modern realistic fiction but this time the topic is much darker. 13 year old Eric is the new kid in town. He quickly meets Griffin and his band of friends who make it clear that they are in charge of a lot of what goes on at the junior high. Eric is befriended by Griffin but soon begins to regret the decision. At first he is a bystander to Griffin's cruel behaviors but being new he is not sure what to do or who to trust. Before long Eric realizes that if you go against the flow with Griffin you will soon become the next target.
This bullying story rings completely true. As tensions rise and more questions about Griffin's behavior trouble Eric, the story careens along faster and faster. You will want to know what is Eric going to do and how will it all end.