Al Capone Does My Shirts is a wonderful book for children about life on Alcatraz Island in the 1930’s, which is the time the infamous gangster Al Capone was incarcerated there. This book is a Newbery Honor book for 2005.
Matthew “Moose” Flanagan has moved to Alcatraz Island when his father gets a job as a prison guard in 1935, during the height of the Great Depression. He has a 15 year-old sister who nowadays would be recognized as special needs but in the book is considered handicapped and unfit for society who should be shut away in a mental institution. Moose loves to play baseball and do typical activities 12 year-old boys do. Moose and his friend, Piper, the warden’s daughter, hatch a plot to make money by having the criminals do the laundry of the kids at school. The criminals currently do the laundry of all those on the island so their plan is to slip in the kids’ clothes and claim Al Capone did their laundry.
However, Moose’s world is consumed by taking care of his sister and her needs. His family is trying to get his sister, Natalie, into a special school for children like her. However, she is rejected due to her age. Desperate, Moose writes a letter to Al Capone to pull some strings and get her in. He does.
Cute book. Very historically accurate. Kids learn all about Al Capone and the infamous Alcatraz Island prison. Great writing. Engaging. Fun. Funny. The characters are well developed. Highly recommended.
Two sequels have been written: Al Capone Shines My Shoes where Moose is called out by Al Capone to help him since he helped his sister get into the Esther P Marinoff School and Al Capone Does My Homework where Moose’s apartment is burned and his sister being blamed, he sets out to discover who set his family’s apartment on fire and why. All three books are great reads and a great lesson on siblings caring for one another and standing up for one another. Moose also shows signs of liking girls and he struggles with making new friends and keeping them. The books deal with the discrimination of those kids different from others and the struggles these families faced. Gennifer Choldenko does a fabulous job of narrating a tumultuous time in kids’ lives.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko
Series:Al Capone at Alcatraz #3
Published byDial BFYR on August 20, 2013
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Alcatraz Island in the 1930s isn't the most normal place to grow up, but it's home for Moose Flanagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and all the families of the guards. When Moose's dad gets promoted to Associate Warden, despite being an unlikely candidate, it's a big deal. But the cons have a point system for targeting prison employees, and his dad is now in serious danger. After a fire starts in the Flanagan's apartment, Natalie is blamed, and Moose bands with the other kids to track down the possible arsonist. Then Moose gets a cryptic note from the notorious Al Capone himself. Is Capone trying to protect Moose's dad too? If Moose can't figure out what Capone's note means, it may be too late.
The last heart-pounding installment in the New York Timesbestselling, Newbery Honor-winning Alcatraz trilogy is not to be missed!
An unsolicited ARC of Al Capone Does My Homework showed up at my house some months back. I’d heard of the series, and I think the first book was even on my to-read list, but it was probably something I never would have gotten to realistically. I mean, I put anything that sounds potentially interesting on my to-read, and there’s no way I can read all of that. After the ARC showed up, I mostly dismissed it, since it was book three in a series I hadn’t started. Then, though, I was looking for audiobooks to listen to and the library had the first two on Overdrive. Well, that changed everything. All of that is to explain both the format change from audio to print and the fact that I’m reviewing the ARC four months after the book came out. But still, it’s a win, right? I mean, I ended up getting to the series and I quite like it, so I say yes.
I’m going to keep this short (and for once I think I won’t just say that and then type on for the usual length of review), as the Al Capone at Alcatraz series is quite consistent in quality and subject matter. If you liked the previous two, you’re sure to enjoy this one as well.
To me, the most interesting element continues to be the relationships, particularly the way anyone interacts with Natalie. Moose still takes care of his autistic older sister Natalie most of the time, but he’s much more understanding than he used to be and also much more convinced that he can help her learn to function more normally. His parents are now much more conservative, afraid to rock the boat, but Moose knows that, with a lot of hard work, she could mix better with society. What they’re working on in Al Capone Does My Homework is getting Natalie to make eye contact with people, particularly during conversations. Throughout all of this, though, I like that Choldenko never shows Natalie as a pathetic figure or wrong. She always holds up the good with the bad.
The mystery didn’t interest me all that much, perhaps because I’m a bit sick of watching everyone on the island mistrust Natalie. She’s been there for three book’s already, so stop assuming she’s evil and/or dangerous. She just thinks about the world differently; get over it. I mean, I get it, but ugh. Plus, I’m not really into mysteries. I am, however, highly entertained by the middle grade romance, which has now turned into a love triangle. Moose has his pick of the ladies his age on Alcatraz. All two of them. This amuses me no end.
I think I preferred the series slightly on audio, but that may just be because I experienced it that way first. This continues to be a fun series, which I recommend for readers who enjoy unusual settings.
“I don’t understand why she can’t fake it.”
“One of the things I like about Natalie is she doesn’t fake anything, Moose.”
Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy: