Mo is one football-crazy little boy.
Using a football for a pillow, waking up to his mom’s calls of football plays—Mo’s whole life revolves around the pigskin. Even though he is younger and smaller than the other kids on the team, he plays for the Robins. He mostly sits on the bench next to Coach Steve, but he still lives to play. One day during a game, Coach Steve butters the ball to teach Mo hand skills, and the opposing team sees him bobble the ball. The coach puts Mo in but tells the Robins not to throw to Mo, causing the other team’s players to mock the boy. Having cagily established Mo as no threat, the coach then engineers Mo’s capture of the game-winning throw. While the ample font, recognizable words, and amusing full-color cartoon illustrations make Mo’s story seem to be a good fit for new readers, the plot is confusing in parts. Most children know that butter does not easily wash off with cold water and that football teams do not include children of wildly varying ages. When Mo gives credit to his coach for the winning play, Coach Steve says something that no coach of a team sport ever says: “No....You won the game.”
A diverse cast of football players, including a pigtailed girl and a proudly centered African-American protagonist, adds interest, but the plot’s flaws may put off even young football fanatics. (Early reader. 4-7)