Ricks' illustrations are bright and cheerful. Both Mo and the coach have dark skin and Mo's team has a variety of skin colors, although they're all bigger than Mo. This is a Penguin Level 2, so the text is brief and simple with short sentences and simple, repetitive dialogue.
It's great to see more easy readers with kids of color, and more easy readers featuring kids in everyday situations (rather than the never-ending stream of oddball animal friends). There aren't many sports-based easy readers and I can see this one flying off the shelf. However, I'm doubtful about the realism of the story. I know pretty much nothing about sports, but I can't quite believe that they'd stick one tiny kid on a team where everyone else is twice his size. I've never heard of training kids to catch footballs by smearing butter on them. And the "underdog wins the big game" is an awfully tired trope. However, as I said, I know nothing about sports and classic tropes are still around for a reason - people like them.
Verdict: Although I'm a little doubtful about the realism of this, it's a stand-out for the diversity, sports, and everyday kids. I can't think of anything else out there that's similar so this is a definite must for your easy reader collection.
ISBN: 9780670016310; Published 2015 by Penguin Young Readers; Purchased for the library