In this tale of overcoming odds, Mo Jackson, the youngest, smallest player on his Little League team, is excited about helping the Lions to a win. Will he be the hero? Or will he strike out?
“One more strike and the game is over. People are standing. People are cheering.” Adler zeroes in on that crucial last-inning, last-out opportunity to bring the runners home, overcome the deficit on the scoreboard, and become the most unlikely team hero. The odds are predictably insurmountable. The team places him in right field because “no balls ever come to right field.” Offensively, Mo has already struck out twice before in the same game. Coach Marie stands across from Mo at the plate, shouting something readers never find out but can only imagine to be “Swing!” Mo turns to hear her better, and the bat turns too. Crack! Such a fortuitous accident leaves everyone confused, including Mo—there’s nothing to do but run! His teammates on base break for home and tap the plate just in the nick of time. The text is appropriately simple, yet Adler cunningly coaxes emerging readers to use their understanding of narrative conventions and their prediction skills to make savvy inferences. African-American Mo and his multiethnic, mixed-gender, woman-coached team make for a nicely inclusive read.
This second in the Mo Jackson series is a home run for the home team of early readers. (Early reader. 5-8)