January 28, 2016
Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
Don’t Throw It to Mo!
by David Adler
illustrated by Sam Ricks
Penguin Young Readers
No one loves football more than Mo. Mom even wakes him up each morning by throwing a football and calling out, “It’s a long throw.” Mo plays on an afterschool team called the Robins. Because Mo is younger and smaller than the other players, he doesn’t get much game time but that’s okay. He sits on the bench with Coach Steve.
Coach Steve knows how important it is for Mo to be able to catch the ball . . . any ball. Because of this Coach Steve butters a ball to make it extra slippery and throws it for Mo to try to catch.
The Jays watch watch and have a good laugh. They aren’t at all worried when the Robin’s coach puts a butter-fingers player into the game. Truthfully, at first they don’t have anything to worry about.
For two plays, Coach tells the other Robins not to throw the ball to Mo. On the third play, Coach tells Mo to go long and Mo is ready.
Each year, the American Library Association gives an award to an outstanding easy reader. This year the 2015 Geisel Award went to Don’t Throw It to Mo!
Some critical adults clearly don’t get it. Why do we need another book about the victory of the small? If you agree with them, you’re reading this as an adult. Kids get what it is to be underestimated because of their size, age, etc. They want Mo to win. And when he does, they will understand that they missed the clues that, really and truly, Mo can catch. When they read this book a second and third time, they’ll look at those clues and think “I’m in on the joke. I’m on the winning side.”
There were two other things that I loved about this book. One was the diversity message. But it isn’t a diversity message that hits you over the head. The author doesn’t say “Mo played on a diverse team called the Robins. Nope. You simply see a wide variety of players in the illustrations, including a brunette with pig tails.
Second, Mo’s mom doesn’t question when the Coach doesn’t put Mo into the game. Mo doesn’t bicker or whine. Coach does his job and no one complains. (Clearly this is fantasy.)
Beginning readers that deal with sports and athleticism are few and far between. Pick this one up for your classroom shelf or for your own sports-minded young reader.