Al Capone Does My Shirts

by Gennifer Choldenko

Ages: 10 years and up (approximately grades 4 and up)

Moose Flanagan is your average, every-day, big-for-his-age ten-year-old growing up in the mid-1930’s when his dad accepts a job as the new prison guard and electrician at the roughest place known to civilians and criminals alike: Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Moose takes his family’s move hard when he is forced to give up his old friends, his baseball team, and share an island home with the nastiest, most scheming criminals of the day, including none other than the infamous Al Capone (who hails from right here in Chicago, Illinois!). Worse yet is when Moose’s older sister, Natalie –who acts like a younger sister due to her severe autism- is rejected from the special school the Flanagans hoped to send her to in San Francisco, saddling Moose with the task of watching over Natalie while his parents work. Unable to make friends off the island, Moose befriends the other guards’ kids, including the warden’s daughter, Piper, who may take more after the crafty Al Capone than her stand up, law abiding warden of a father. Can Moose find the time away from his sister to return to playing his beloved game of baseball without hurting his friendships with the kids on Alcatraz island? Will Piper ever learn that her conniving ways are more trouble than they’re worth? Could Natalie end up getting into her special school with a little help from Al Capone himself? Find out in Al Capone Does My Shirts, as well as the two sequels that more than live up to their predecessor, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and Al Capone Does My Homework.

 

This 2005 Newbery Honor book tackles the themes of childhood, morality, mental health, and history in a way that is pleasing and palatable to its target audience. Included in this volume is an extensive and interesting author’s note where Choldenko outlines her in-depth research not only on the lives of those who lived on Alcatraz in the 1930’s, but also explaining the struggles of Natalie’s character and how she is based off Choldenko’s own autistic sister. While somehow keeping the historical and autistic realities in check throughout the story, Al Capone Does My Shirt also lightheartedly delves into the depths of childhood crushes, friendships, school life, and know-it-all adults. Moose’s character is not only big for his age, but mature, with a smattering of sarcasm and in-your-face humor despite the challenges he, his friends, and his sister get themselves into. Children ages ten and up will enjoy this book, especially if they enjoy historical fiction, friendship-based shenanigans and humor, or have a soft spot for those who are a little bit different.

Find Al Capone Does My Shirts, and the rest of the Al Capone on Alcatraz series, in the catalog.

 
Comments List

Excerpts is the library newsletter and comes out every three months. It is mailed to every Glencoe resident. Copies of the newsletter are available online (below) and at the library. Please be sure to check the library calendar for program updates.

2020 Issues

March 2020

June 2020

2019 Issues

December 2019

September 2019

June 2019

March 2019

2018 Issues

December 2018

September 2018

March 2018

June 2018

2017 Issues

December 2017

March 2017

June 2017

September 2017

2016 Issues

December 2016

September 2016

March 2016

June 2016

2015 Issues

December 2015
September 2015
June 2015

March 2015

2014 Issues
December 2014
September 2014
June 2014
March 2014

2013 Issues
December 2013
September 2013
June 2013
March 2013

2012 Issues
December 2012
September 2012
June 2012
March 2012

2011 Issues
December 2011
September 2011
June 2011
March 2011

2010 Issues
December 2010
September 2010
June 2010
March 2010

2009 Issues
December 2009
September 2009
June 2009
March 2009

2008 Issues
December 2008