Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Get a Hit, Mo! by David A. Adler and Sam Ricks

Today's guest blogger is Liesel Schmidt. Liesel is a Children's Librarian at Denver Public Library. As a former preschool teacher, Liesel is excited about books that get young children reading.

Liesel here to take on Get a Hit, Mo!, the sequel to last year’s winner. Last year’s Don’t Throw it to Mo! charmed the Geisel judges with its plucky protagonist, Mo Jackson, vibrant illustrations, and approachable text. This year, author David A. Adler and illustrator Sam Ricks bring Mo back for another shot at athletic glory. This time around, Mo is playing baseball and he’s giving it all he’s got.

Does the story “carry a child along from start to finish”?
Image from
Get a Hit, Mo! revisits many of the themes that we saw in Don’t Throw it to Mo! Mo is still smaller and younger than the other players on his team. As in the previous book, the reader is again drawn through the action to discover whether or not Mo will succeed in his efforts to help his team win, this time by getting a hit in the baseball game. At the outset of the book, things look grim. Mo will “bat last. I always bat last, Mo thinks.” The “page-turning dynamic” is built right into the action of the baseball game. It all comes down to the final hit. Will Mo save the day?

Does the text support a beginning reader’s needs?
Without getting too “inside baseball” about it, the book accurately captures the intricacies of a ball game in short, declarative sentences. Mo watches the other team’s batters let balls pass them if they are too high or low. “When the ball is just right, they swing and hit the ball. That’s what I’ll do, Mo thinks.” Sports terminology provides a natural support for beginning readers. The frame of a baseball game lets Adler convey lots of action with few words, including “ball”, “strike”, and “hit”.The baseball terms used in the book are repeated throughout to give readers a chance to become comfortable with the text.

Do the illustrations “function as keys or clues to the text”?
As in Don’t Throw it to Mo!, the illustrations here complement and support the text. Text is printed simply and uniformly, and paired strategically near illustrations that visually express Mo’s enthusiastic efforts. When the new word, “umpire” is introduced, there is the umpire’s face filling the page, holding his mask. Onomatopoeic sound effects hover near Mo’s bat at appropriate moments to draw the reader’s focus toward the action-- “Whoosh! Strike one.” And, although the vocabulary used is straightforward, readers can get a sense of Mo’s complicated feelings of excitement, nervousness, and dismay by looking at Ricks’ depictions of Mo waiting for his turn to bat.

Get a Hit, Mo! is another great contribution to the needs of beginning readers. For beginning readers who loved Don’t Throw it To Mo!, this new sports adventure will be a hit. If we are in the business of “Guessing Geisel”, I would look elsewhere to new stories breaking new ground, but I will be glad to see more of little Mo Jackson and his big dreams. Keep this series in mind for young readers looking for books with simple text and exciting sports action.


  1. Liesel, thanks for this write-up! It sounds like the book meets a lot of the Geisel criteria to you (intriguing subject matter and presentation, thoughtful introduction of new words, repetition for knowledge retention, straightforward sentences, helpful illustrations, a "page-turning" dynamic, etc.). You say that you'd look elsewhere if we are Guessing Geisel though. Are there other books you think shine brighter from this year's crop of potential contenders? I'm curious and excited to hear what "breaking new ground" might look like to you (& hopefully others too).

  2. Elisa, thanks for starting a discussion! I did enjoy this new entry from David Adler, but it didn't engage me as fully as Don't Throw it to Mo, last year's winner. The ending just wasn't quite as satisfying. Although Mo Jackson won both the football game and the baseball game in his two books, I'd be surprised if his exploits were to win the Geisel two years in a row. As for this year's winner, I'll be excited to see what this blog turns up!