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Paperback Al Capone Does My Shirts Book

ISBN: 0142403709

ISBN13: 9780142403709

Al Capone Does My Shirts

(Book #1 in the Al Capone at Alcatraz Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

The Newbery Honor Book and New York Times Bestseller that is historical fiction with a hint of mystery about living at Alcatraz not as a prisoner, but as a kid meeting some of the most famous criminals in our history. Al Capone Does My Shirts has become an instant classic for all kids to read Today I moved to Alcatraz, a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A delightful and insightful children's historical!

When I saw this book on the public library shelf, I wondered if it was a good idea to read a historical novel for children. On one hand, it is historical and set during the 1930s, which was what I had been looking for, but on the other hand... well, it's a children's novel. I have read and loved various children's books and novels, but I read most of them years ago and I've been reading more Young Adult books rather than children's reads whenever I'm in the mood for those as of late. However, the plot in this book seemed interesting and the title caught my eye so I decided to give it a whirl. Al Capone Does My Shirts is a delightful, insightful and heartwarming novel that appeals to adults as well as children. The year is 1935. The Flanagan family moves to Alcatraz Island, just off San Francisco, because Mr. Flanagan has accepted to work as a guard at the notorious prison. They do this because they want their daughter Natalie, an autistic child, to be accepted at Esther P. Marinoff School, a school that would be perfect for her. The girl would have to accepted at the school though, and in the meantime her brother, Moose, will have to look after her. This doesn't sit well with Moose, for he'd rather be playing baseball. Several fun and entertaining events occur in this novel, like Moose getting into trouble whenever he hangs out with Piper, the warden's daughter. Al Capone is mentioned a great deal here since he was a prisoner at Alcatraz at the time. Could the Flanagans and the other children survive at such close proximity to criminals? There are various twists throughout the novel. It is a good thing I don't go by first impressions and trusted my instincts when I picked up this book. What a delightful and uplifting read this turned out to be! Moose Flanagan is a wonderful narrator and his adventures with Piper and the other kids are fun to read. (Piper is very annoying though.) His experiences with his autistic sister are wonderful and poignant at times. Moose grabbed me from the opening sentence all the way to the last paragraph of the book. I enjoyed his cynical tone when talking about Alcatraz and the other children who live on the island. I also liked the insights about living with a child with autism. They moved me and taught me a great deal about the illness. It seemed that having a child with autism was especially difficult during the 1930s because they didn't have the kind of knowledge of the illness that doctors and specialists have now. And that's another enjoyable factor in this novel -- the time period. Historical facts and information populate this book without overshadowing the storyline. I love the references about Al Capone and other historical figures and goings-on like the Great Depression. Gennifer Choldenko has created a wonderful and educational world for children and a delightful and just as educational reading experience for adults. I enjoyed Al Capone Does My Shirts and I hope to encounter a b

The Rock

There's historical fiction, and then there's historical fiction. Now to critique a kid's book that falls in the historical fiction genre there's really only one standard to which you should hold the book directly accountable: Do accurate historical facts about the story make the book more interesting or less interesting? Which is to say, does the story stand on its own two feet? Has this book taken true tales and given them new life or has it created an entirely fictional (some would say fanciful) world that bears little resemblance to what really did occur back in the day? I am pleased to report that Gennifer Choldenko's book, "Al Capone Does My Shirts" sits strongly in the former category. Taking true facts, following them up with historical research and footnotes, and giving the whole book a real but fascinating feel, Choldenko has written one of the great chidren's novels of 2004. The story is deeply interesting and continually gripping without boring the reader once. The premise is alluring but it's Choldenko's excellent writing that solidifies this puppy as a must-read for all ages. Not many kids get to live on an island chock full of the world's most dangerous prisoners. But not many kids are Moose Flanagan. When his father takes a job as a guard on Alcatraz Island, just off the coast of San Francisco, Moose finds himself in alarmingly close proximity with a variety of different vicious criminals. The whole reason his father took the job, of course, is because of Moose's sister Natalie. A victim of autism, Natalie's condition isn't one that's easy to treat in 1935 America. The family has just discovered a wonderful school that might do Natalie some great good if they can only get her into it. Unfortunately, treating Natalie so that she's acceptable to the school may require her to spend copious amounts of time with Moose when he'd rather be playing baseball. And then there's that awful warden's daughter, Piper, who keeps getting Moose and his friends into trouble all the time. Things are a lot more interesting on an island prison than even Moose might have suspected. The book does several very difficult things simultaneously. First of all, it tells the story of Moose and Natalie without appealing to the lowest common denominator. I was deathly afraid that this might turn into one of those "Beautiful Mind"/"I Am Sam"/"Shine"/any other triumph-over-adversity story you'd like to name. I was hoping against hope that this would not end up being some teary weeper with a perfect happy ending and an idealized struggle against the unknowable. Now, admittedly, the ending is (not to give anything away) pretty darn perfect. Choldenko isn't afraid of employing a little deus ex machina to get her way. On the other hand, she pulls it off. Sure, the ending's just a tad schlocky. But it's also exactly what the reader wants to hear. There are no happy endings for autistic kids in a 1935 world, but this one comes pretty darn close

You will like this one.

My children received this book as a gift and I decided I should read it before my 9 year old took a shot at it. I had no idea what to expect and started without even reading the back cover. From the first page I was hooked. The writing is very well done. Its deep and meaningful but not at all self-conscious or pretentious. It hits that superb level of competence when reading becomes effortless almost as if you are watching the story unfold in real life. Still it is very accessible to grade school readers and will be a great read aloud book. The subject matter is great for kids. Its not santized but kid appropriate. The protagonist is a young teen boy and the author really pulls off telling the story from his point of view. A special note needs to be made that this is indeed a story told from the perspective of the younger sibling of a developmentally disabled young woman whose family is learning to deal with what we would now label autism. I found myself asking "how did the author know?" as I moved through the pages lured on by the unfolding of a story I had lived but in a much less interesting time and place. My sister is now 38 and I am 37. I think I will keep the gift copy for myself and buy two more copies, one for each of my children. When the time is right I hope this book will help them understand why my "older sister who is younger than me" has such a special place in my life and can get away with doing things they never can.

An excellent book for all ages

I can hardly believe this is considered a children's book, since it is ideal for adults who can relate to their own coming-of-age experiences. Without going into excessive detail, Gennifer Choldenko manages to portray an era, adolescence and the pain of a disabled sibling in a different time with alarming accuracy. Moose Flanagan is a 7th grader who is tall for his age. It is 1935, right in the midst of the Great Depression. Moose's father takes a job as a prison guard on Alcatraz Island. This means the whole family, including his mom and older sister, Natalie, have to live on the island, within the shadow of the prison, in an apartment building with the families of the other guards. Moose is not happy about leaving his home and friends in Santa Monica to take up residence next to a prison. The main reason for the move is so that his older sister, Natalie, can go to a special school in San Francisco. Natalie is considered different. In modern times, she would be diagnosed as Autistic, but in 1935, Autism had not been classified. Moose adjusts to life in a strange new place, stuck with the responsibility of looking after his sister, hardly seeing his parents, and getting to know the other children on the island, including the pretty and problematic Piper, the daughter of the Warden. I read this book in one sitting. It is very well-written, and the author clearly hasn't forgotten what it is to be a child. She portrays being the responsible sibling to a handicapped sister excellently, and I cannot recommend this book enough.

"Al Capone Does My Shirts"

"Al Capone Does My Shirts" is about a 12-year old boy named Moose, whose family moves to Alcatraz in 1934 for his dad's job as a prison guard there. If you don't know, Alcatraz is a maximum-security prison on a rocky island across the bay from San Francisco. Although it is no longer in use, in the 1930's, Alcatraz was prison sweet prison to such notorious gangsters as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. You could understand why Moose isn't excatly thrilled to live there. But the other reason they moved is so his sister, Natalie, could go to the Esther P. Marinoff school. Natalie has a disease that is today called autism, but was unidentified in the 30's. Moose, wanting his sister to be "normal", agrees to move for her sake. Still, he isn't happy about living on what he calls "a 12-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turds and surrounded by water". But the other families that live on Alcatraz might change his mind. This book is both funny and sad, and Moose is very easy to relate to. Other very dynamic characters make "Al Capone Does My Shirts" interesting. You'll finish it quickly and wish it were longer.
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