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Al Capone Does My Shirts

Al Capone Does My Shirts

  

by Gennifer Choldenko

  • Al Capone Does My Shirts /
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Al Capone Does My Shirts Introduction

Forget everything you think you know about moose, because Moose Flanagan is neither covered in fur, nor does he have ridiculously long legs. Instead, he’s just a kid trying to make it in the 1930s… with an autistic sister… and Al Capone for a neighbor. He’s living in a whole different kind of wilderness from his four-legged namesakes.

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko , has been critically acclaimed since it was published in 2004. And when we say acclaimed, we’re talking by the Newbery Honor folks. Which is basically like the president of children’s books giving you the seal of approval. And it’s easy to see why—this book dives into both unusual and usual terrain at once, combining the unusual setting of living on Alcatraz Island while Al Capone’s a prisoner there with the totally usual struggles of growing up, particularly with a sister who has some troubles of her own.

This book is equal parts touching and treacherous, and the first in a series by Choldenko featuring Moose and his infamous criminal neighbor. So hop into the way back machine, and get ready for an up close and personal look at life in the 1930s… with Al Capone only a stone’s throw away. If you enjoy the ride, there’s more where this book came from.

 

What is Al Capone Does My Shirts About and Why Should I Care?

Okay, so the whole Al Capone element is obviously pretty compelling—who doesn’t get excited to read about infamous gangsters?—but Al Capone Does My Shirts dives into much more important territory: namely, autism.

Autism hits really close to home for Gennifer Choldenko. Her sister Gina, whom she dedicated the book to, actually has autism herself. So Choldenko’s depiction of Natalie, Moose’s autistic sister, isn’t just a throw away element of the plot; it’s a major component to this story.

In the 1930s, doctors and medical professionals didn’t know all they do now about autism and other disorders, and it’s really rough going for Natalie and her family that wants to protect her and help her have the best life possible. Choldenko really explores how hard having autism can be, for both the person affected and those who care about them. And since autism is a major issue these days—in 2014, the Center for Disease Control estimated that one in sixty-eight children is diagnosed with some form of it—gaining an appreciation for the realities of living with autism is super important. Plus, it’ll help you see how far we’ve come.

All the bells and whistles about Alcatraz being a big deal prison are ultimately just to get your attention in this book. At its heart, amongst other things, is autism and all the troubles and triumphs that come with it. The story might be set during the Great Depression, but its exploration of autism is about as timely an issue as possible for readers these days.

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Preview — Al Capone Does My Shirts
by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts

(Al Capone at Alcatraz #1)

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Today I moved to 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’s my sister, Natalie, except she doesn’t count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook’s or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there ar
Today I moved to 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’s my sister, Natalie, except she doesn’t count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook’s or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don’t want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you’re me. I came here because my mother said I had to.
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Paperback, 225 pages
Published
April 20th 2006
by Puffin Books


(first published January 1st 2004)

More Details…

Original Title
Al Capone Does My Shirts

ISBN
0142403709
(ISBN13: 9780142403709)

Edition Language
English

Series
Al Capone at Alcatraz #1

Characters
Al Capone

setting
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California ,
1935

(United States)


Literary Awards
Newbery Medal Nominee (2005) , Sid Fleischman Humor Award (2005) , Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Nominee (2006) , John and Patricia Beatty Award (2005) , California Young Readers Medal for Middle School/Junior High (2007)
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Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children’s Literature Nominee (2005) , Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award Nominee (2006)
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  • one year ago

Julia Marks


historical fiction
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    • 2 years ago

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    not on this website. You actually have to read the book.
    like the hardcover book
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      2,813 voters





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      Community Reviews


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      Rick Riordan

      Nov 08, 2013

      rated it
      really liked it

      I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and I’m glad I finally got the chance. It tells the story of 12-year-old Moose Flanagan, whose family moves to Alcatraz in the 1930s when his dad takes a job as a prison guard. The first-person narration is beautifully done. I loved the humor and the relationships between the characters. We assume Al Capone will have a role to play in the book, but it’s not clear what that role will be until the very end, when we get a Gangster ex Machina resolution. I
      I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and I’m glad I finally got the chance. It tells the story of 12-year-old Moose Flanagan, whose family moves to Alcatraz in the 1930s when his dad takes a job as a prison guard. The first-person narration is beautifully done. I loved the humor and the relationships between the characters. We assume Al Capone will have a role to play in the book, but it’s not clear what that role will be until the very end, when we get a Gangster ex Machina resolution. It certainly left me wanting to read the sequel, if only to see if we get more about Capone.
      …more

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      31 likes  ·  Like
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      Jessica

      Oct 29, 2007

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      newbery

      I had to read this book once I learned that it is about little kids who lived on Alcatraz in the 1930s. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to purchase Alcatraz Island and live there. (Plus, it’s a Newberry Honor Book, so it sort of counts towards my goal.)

      The book centers around a family: a mother, a father, a “ten” year old sister, and a twelve year old brother, our protagonist, Moose. The family has just moved to Alcatraz Island where the father works around the clock at two jobs so th
      I had to read this book once I learned that it is about little kids who lived on Alcatraz in the 1930s. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to purchase Alcatraz Island and live there. (Plus, it’s a Newberry Honor Book, so it sort of counts towards my goal.)

      The book centers around a family: a mother, a father, a “ten” year old sister, and a twelve year old brother, our protagonist, Moose. The family has just moved to Alcatraz Island where the father works around the clock at two jobs so that the sister, Natalie, can attend a prestigious and expensive school for children with mental issues. Natalie has what would today be called autism.

      Moose Flanagan’s view of life perfectly depicts the struggle between loving someone and half wanting them to go away. He loves his sister, but she complicates his life in ways that most twelve year old boys don’t have to deal with. Also, he illustrates the loneliness of the “okay” sibling. All of the family’s resources and time seem to be poured into Natalie, leaving Moose with many responsibilities and few perks.

      The feeling of this book stayed with me–mostly via the setting. The images of children on the island, taking a boat back and forth to school everyday, lingering just beyond the field where the prisoners play baseball, hoping to catch a ball, having their laundry done in the prisons.

      So, the phrase is overused, but “heartwarming” definitely applies here.
      …more

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      Carol

      Dec 17, 2008

      rated it
      really liked it

      With a name like Al Capone Does My Shirts, I was settled in for a good light read, not. Not that it isn’t an easy read but there is pathos in this story of Moose Flannagan. Moose is the brother of a severely challenged sister, Natalie, who cannot function in society and is sometimes entombed in her own frightening world to the exclusion of even her family.
      Moose’s father is a prison guard/electrician on the island of Alcatraz. His mother takes a boat to San Francisco most days to teach piano and

      With a name like Al Capone Does My Shirts, I was settled in for a good light read, not. Not that it isn’t an easy read but there is pathos in this story of Moose Flannagan. Moose is the brother of a severely challenged sister, Natalie, who cannot function in society and is sometimes entombed in her own frightening world to the exclusion of even her family.
      Moose’s father is a prison guard/electrician on the island of Alcatraz. His mother takes a boat to San Francisco most days to teach piano and Moose is in charge of head strong, not to be sidetracked Natalie. How many ways can you spell trouble??? I identified in ways most readers wouldn’t with this story because I am the mother of a disabled young adult. I never went through what Natalie’s mother went through, looking for a cure, but I think I know that a disability effects everyone in the family. I spent weeks when Jami was little going to the doctor up to three times in a week. There is no way all that time and attention on one child does not take away from the others but you do what you have to do. I like to think that our experience has made our other six children more compassionate people. And a special note to Jeff, my knight in shining armor who spent most of his weekends his junior year babysitting so Mom could get out and socialize – you are my Moose, thank you for all your goodness, love, Mom

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      Kristine

      Apr 21, 2008

      rated it
      really liked it

      Recommends it for:
      family and friends of someone with autism, anyone
      Shelves:
      newbery-honors ,
      i-own ,
      kids-lit

      I read this poolside during our SoCal vacation — and I was pleasantly surprised.

      Moose’s family moves to Alcatraz where his dad has taken a job as an electrician. He has a “younger” sister who has autism and the family is trying to get her into a special school.

      If you think about it there are so many parts of the story that are heart-wrenching . . . the author does an amazing job of making emotional connections with each character. You can see the grief cycle in each member: anger, denial, bar
      I read this poolside during our SoCal vacation — and I was pleasantly surprised.

      Moose’s family moves to Alcatraz where his dad has taken a job as an electrician. He has a “younger” sister who has autism and the family is trying to get her into a special school.

      If you think about it there are so many parts of the story that are heart-wrenching . . . the author does an amazing job of making emotional connections with each character. You can see the grief cycle in each member: anger, denial, bargaining, etc. I also loved how she showed Natalie, the sister, as a real person — one of the few books I’ve read with a disabled character that really shows you the person inside.

      I really felt like I was on the island with them, as well. Having it set on Alcatraz is really cool and you learn a lot about the island in the 1930s — and of course, it’s funny!

      After I read the book I just told Darik, “Wow. I love that children’s literature can be this good and be entertaining and yet handle “adult issues” (autism, growing up, family relationships, etc.) better than adult literature can a lot of times.”
      …more

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      Julia M

      Jul 09, 2008

      rated it
      it was amazing

      I absolutely adore this book! Initially, I had to read it for a children’s literature class two years ago, but I chose to pick it up again recently because I loved it so much. The story is about a young boy named Moose and his experiences growing up as a prison guard’s son on Alcatraz during the 1930’s. Moose’s younger sister Natalie has special needs, and although her specific diagnosis is unknown, we as readers can assume that she is autistic. Moose’s life is made even more interesting when he
      I absolutely adore this book! Initially, I had to read it for a children’s literature class two years ago, but I chose to pick it up again recently because I loved it so much. The story is about a young boy named Moose and his experiences growing up as a prison guard’s son on Alcatraz during the 1930’s. Moose’s younger sister Natalie has special needs, and although her specific diagnosis is unknown, we as readers can assume that she is autistic. Moose’s life is made even more interesting when he begins corresponding with Al Capone, one of the most notorious gangsters ever imprisoned on Alcatraz.

      This is perhaps one of the most unique stories I have ever read, and I think that the whole coming-of-age theme ties in nicely with Moose’s struggles to accept Natalie’s differences. I am definitely planning on using this book in my classroom this year, and I can’t wait to see what my students think!
      …more

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      Lily

      Feb 26, 2018

      rated it
      did not like it

      I did not like Al Capone Does My Shirts at all. I thought the plot was too unique to be believable. The characters had all the same traits and I thought the book was really slow. The only problem in the book was how Moose’s sister, Natalie, had aspergers and was not being accepted to a special school to make her more socially comfortable. I could see the outcome of the book way before the ending. I did not enjoy this book at all. Overall, I gave Al Capone Does My Shirts one star.

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      8 likes  ·  Like
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      Manybooks

      Apr 10, 2018

      rated it
      liked it

      Shelves:
      challenges-special-needs ,
      childrens-literature ,
      book-reviews ,
      historical-fiction

      Now althoughI have indeed much enjoyed the historical San Francisco and Alcatraz setting of Gennifer Choldenko’s Newebery Honour winning Al Capone Does My Shirts (and absolutely love the non fictional supplementals at the back of the book which truth be told have been my favourite parts of the book), personally I have found a few rather annoying and frustrating issues with the author’s story-telling, with her narrational style, scenarios that have felt rather a bit “off” to and for me.

      For one,
      Now althoughI have indeed much enjoyed the historical San Francisco and Alcatraz setting of Gennifer Choldenko’s Newebery Honour winning Al Capone Does My Shirts (and absolutely love the non fictional supplementals at the back of the book which truth be told have been my favourite parts of the book), personally I have found a few rather annoying and frustrating issues with the author’s story-telling, with her narrational style, scenarios that have felt rather a bit “off” to and for me.

      For one, with narrator Moose and actually with regard to many if not even most of the Alcatraz children presented (except for Natalie of course, but she is a special case), while I have most definitely enjoyed being taken into their world, their ways of expressing themselves and even many of their behaviour patterns often really do tend to feel rather anachronistic (as though instead of 1935, when Al Capone Does My Shirts is set, the novel reads more like it takes place much later, in say the 1950s or 60s). And yes indeed, even after now having finished Al Capone Does My Shirts, I keep having to check the Goodreads book description for the precise time period, as I still when I think of Al Capone Does My Shirts keep imagining and considering a post and not a pre WWII tale, for especially how the children, how Moose, Piper, Theresa, Annie, Jimmy etc. behave, act out and talk amongst themselves and with their parents, and even how many of the Alcatraz adults, but especially Moose’s parents, tend to conduct themselves, sorry, but it just does not seem like typical 1930s America, and more like a considerably later time period (and while of course, the type of family dysfunction that is shown with the Flanagans and especially with regard to Moose’s mother and her obvious favouritism of Natalie over Moose also existed in the 1930s and earlier, how overtly this is shown in Al Capone Does My Shirts and by the young twelve year old narrator at that, by Moose Flanagan himself, feels at least to and for me rather jarring and out of time, in other words, how Gennifer Choldenko has Moose narrate, just seems too annoyingly modern for a historical novel).

      And for two, especially how Moose’s mother is depicted (her clear favouritism of autistic Natalie over Moose, that the mother basically shoves almost ALL of the responsibilities for Natalie and for much of the household chores and such on Moose without even considering his feelings, often reacting very allergically and nastily if ANYONE even remotely tries to call her out, tries to be in any manner critical), while I do realise that persons like Mrs. Flanagan exist in real life, in Al Capone Does My Shirts, I have most certainly been left with the distinct impression that Moose’s mother has been created and used by the author as basically and mostly a rather one dimensional and yes almost stock witch-like fairy tale villain type, a character with no or at least hardly any personality and nuances, someone who reads like a blank slate of cardboard except with regard to being negative and grating. And really, even autistic Natalie, Moose’s older sister, has much much more to her in every way than the mother, who just appears like an annoying buzzing mosquito but who also seems to rule the roost so to speak, a scenario that I for one have found not all that pleasurable to read, as while I do not at all mind negative characters appearing in my novels, and actually often welcome them, if I want to read about one dimensional negativity and nastiness, I will generally tend to peruse fairy and folktales (and unfortunately, especially how Mrs. Flanagan is textually depicted and featured by Gennifer Choldenko, it sure does makes Al Capone Does My Shirts feel a trifle on the surface at best, with the deus ex machina ending of Al Capone actually using his influence even whilst in prison on Alcatraz to get Natalie into that special school heightening my feelings of disbelief and of being in a novel that is not all always that realistic and rather majorly artificial in scope at times).
      …more

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      Krista the Krazy Kataloguer

      Sep 02, 2007

      rated it
      it was ok

      Shelves:
      read-childrens-books ,
      read-newbery ,
      read-goodreads-authors ,
      read-historical-fiction

      Interesting setting (Alcatraz, 1930s) and unusual characters
      (boy with autistic sister), but I wouldn’t have given this the Newbery honor book award.

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      7 likes  ·  Like
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      Ann

      Jul 16, 2009

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      teen ,
      historical-fiction ,
      2009 ,
      newbery-honor ,
      read-juvenile

      This is a really great book. I’d been meaning to read it for years and finally got around to it! Moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatrez Island where his father works as a guard so that his sister Natalie can go to a special school in San Francisco for kids with disabilities. Today, Natalie would have been diagnosed with autism, but back then they didn’t know what to do with her. The author deals with this topic very sensitively and emotionally, because it’s based on her own experiences w
      This is a really great book. I’d been meaning to read it for years and finally got around to it! Moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatrez Island where his father works as a guard so that his sister Natalie can go to a special school in San Francisco for kids with disabilities. Today, Natalie would have been diagnosed with autism, but back then they didn’t know what to do with her. The author deals with this topic very sensitively and emotionally, because it’s based on her own experiences with her sister.

      Al Capone is imprisoned on Alcatraz at the time (the 1930’s) and amazingly enough there were actually 50 or 60 families that made their residence on the island then. The warden wanted his guards to live close by in the event of a problem, and many of the families considered it a very safe place to live. I had no idea! Moose makes friends with some of the kids on the island, does a lot of growing up, and gets into some trouble. This is a very sweet story.
      …more

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      Stephen

      Oct 31, 2012

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      books-read-in-2012 ,
      historical-fiction

      Surprisingly upbeat for a book set in the Great Depression and dealing with the subject of autism. From the first paragraphs I realized that this was not the light-hearted, funny book that the title suggested. And yet it was a good wholesome read that left one feeling better rather than worse. This book walks the fine line between tense and funny and yet has heart. It should be a good recommendation for reluctant readers, particularly of the young male persuasion.

      Told from a young man’s perspec
      Surprisingly upbeat for a book set in the Great Depression and dealing with the subject of autism. From the first paragraphs I realized that this was not the light-hearted, funny book that the title suggested. And yet it was a good wholesome read that left one feeling better rather than worse. This book walks the fine line between tense and funny and yet has heart. It should be a good recommendation for reluctant readers, particularly of the young male persuasion.

      Told from a young man’s perspective, it in some ways it reminded me of a Walton’s episode. Nevertheless, it was a fast engaging read that I’m glad I experienced. It certainly is worthy of the Newbury Honor that it received. It’s entertaining and yet one somehow finds toward the end that the author has slipped you a nutritious book as well as an entertaining one.

      One wonders what Dickens would have thought of the way convicts were portrayed here.
      …more

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      Jinky

      Sep 30, 2010

      rated it
      it was ok

       · 
      review of another edition

      Shelves:
      read-in-2010

      I don’t agree with the enthusiasm for this book. A Newbery Honor, really? At least it didn’t win.

      I wanted to like this book. A story about families living on Alcatraz where the worst of the worst convicts reside was alluring. But this book just didn’t cut it. The characters developments were horrid. Moose was wishy-washy, Piper incredibly reckless, and the adults were idiots. The only character that the author got right was Natalie. Plus, the whole ‘let’s see how close we can monopolize Al Capo
      I don’t agree with the enthusiasm for this book. A Newbery Honor, really? At least it didn’t win.

      I wanted to like this book. A story about families living on Alcatraz where the worst of the worst convicts reside was alluring. But this book just didn’t cut it. The characters developments were horrid. Moose was wishy-washy, Piper incredibly reckless, and the adults were idiots. The only character that the author got right was Natalie. Plus, the whole ‘let’s see how close we can monopolize Al Capone’ story line was weak in aligning with the characters. This is where I wish I was articulate because I want to spell out how the characters broke this book for me and therefore how silly the story became. ~Anyone out there that has read this book and see what I see and can help effectively describe the bazaarness? Oh well, maybe it’s just me.

      **Find this review and more at Jinky is reading
      …more

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      Meghan

      Feb 23, 2012

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      engl-492-required-reading

      I really enjoyed reading Al Capone Does My Shirts for a few reasons. First of all, it was a very quick read. The writing style was so simple, so it was a walk in the park to read on a Tuesday night. Secondly, the setting and the characters were very interesting. I think many of the characters had unique voices and mannerisms that made them memorable. However, some of the characters weren’t very active in the plot and it just left me with questions about their participation in the book. The under
      I really enjoyed reading Al Capone Does My Shirts for a few reasons. First of all, it was a very quick read. The writing style was so simple, so it was a walk in the park to read on a Tuesday night. Secondly, the setting and the characters were very interesting. I think many of the characters had unique voices and mannerisms that made them memorable. However, some of the characters weren’t very active in the plot and it just left me with questions about their participation in the book. The underdeveloped characters only confused me.

      This book really tugged at my heart strings. I couldn’t help but feel for Moose’s character as his mother forced him to mature sooner than he was ready for. For being so young, he was a huge help to Natalie and she seemed to improve when she was with him. Unfortunately, many parents focus too much on “fixing” their children instead of accepting and loving them for who they are. Because there wasn’t a diagnosis for autism during the time period, I understand Moose’s mother’s frustration with Natalie’s illness, but it was difficult to side with her on her actions. I wanted her to recognize Moose’s participation in Natalie’s improvement. I wanted her to show Moose her love. But it just didn’t happen and I felt for him.

      I think this book would be great to teach in middle school. The book is interesting enough to keep them engaged and has plenty of underlying themes to spark conversation in the classroom. Moose’s relationship with Natalie alone could be a class-long discussion among the students. This book would also be a great history lesson for students who have never heard of Alcatraz. I love the idea of the map in the book to help readers visualize the events and places that Choldenko writes about.
      …more

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      Ensiform

      Oct 10, 2016

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      fiction

      In 1935, 12-year-old Moose moves with his parents and autistic sister, Natalie, to Alcatraz Island. Despite his best intentions, Moose finds himself under the sway of the warden’s conniving daughter, Piper, which distracts him from the important responsibility of caring for Natalie, and above all keeping her condition quiet. Piper ropes Moose into forbidden stunts like selling laundry done by the inmates to their school’s non-prison-dwelling students. But when Natalie’s condition threatens to en
      In 1935, 12-year-old Moose moves with his parents and autistic sister, Natalie, to Alcatraz Island. Despite his best intentions, Moose finds himself under the sway of the warden’s conniving daughter, Piper, which distracts him from the important responsibility of caring for Natalie, and above all keeping her condition quiet. Piper ropes Moose into forbidden stunts like selling laundry done by the inmates to their school’s non-prison-dwelling students. But when Natalie’s condition threatens to end everything Moose cares about, Moose bucks the rules himself by trying to appeal to Al Capone himself for help.

      This is a very well-written and enjoyable book. Moose’s personality is complex and rich; he wants to be like the other kids, just playing ball and being “normal,” but he fiercely defends family even as he resents Natalie for her special needs. Natalie, in turn, is painted very realistically; she is neither “high functioning” nor some stereotypical savant, but a young adult with a distinct personality, unable to express herself clearly and more comfortable in her own mind. Their mother is loving and self-sacrificing, but a product of her era, insisting that 16-year-old Natalie is ten and trying everything and anything to make Natalie “normal” so that she will have the kind of future that is socially accepted. In short, Choldenko has created a story that is fantastic to today’s readers because of its setting (Moose cleans his teeth with tooth powder; there is no television; they live on a prison island), but that is also universal due to the familiar stresses and pains of growing up and trying to blend in. Really quite masterfully done.
      …more

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      Beth

      Jan 15, 2016

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      reviewed

      Read this on the plane before visiting Alcatraz, and it was the perfect introduction. I was reading more for the historical nuggets, but there was a wealth of pitch-perfect human interactions and that was the meat of this book: kids who felt real, and parents who felt real, and an adult who felt just shy of villainy in a way that of course a kid would see the guy, and a fabulous representation of autism in the 1930s. The plot felt a little undeveloped – the book ended so suddenly! – but let’s ca
      Read this on the plane before visiting Alcatraz, and it was the perfect introduction. I was reading more for the historical nuggets, but there was a wealth of pitch-perfect human interactions and that was the meat of this book: kids who felt real, and parents who felt real, and an adult who felt just shy of villainy in a way that of course a kid would see the guy, and a fabulous representation of autism in the 1930s. The plot felt a little undeveloped – the book ended so suddenly! – but let’s call this an Actual Deserving Newbery Book.

      (If you detect any bitterness there, what can I say.)

      I was thrilled to see this in the Alcatraz gift shop. Like From the Mixed-Up Files, it does its setting such justice that it’s a perfect marriage of place + novel.
      …more

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      Yasmin

      Feb 04, 2016

      rated it
      really liked it

      3.5 stars. Full review to come very soon!

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      Lilly

      Oct 21, 2014

      rated it
      it was amazing

      I read this book a long time ago, probably about fourth grade. I know it is a great book because four years later, I still remember how much I enjoyed reading this book. I do not remember all the teeny tiny details, but I do remember the brand new perspective I gained from reading this book, a new perspective of people. People do not fit in cookie cutters or molds, every person is unique. To me this book is all about perspective. It explores the different perspectives of people with autism, and
      I read this book a long time ago, probably about fourth grade. I know it is a great book because four years later, I still remember how much I enjoyed reading this book. I do not remember all the teeny tiny details, but I do remember the brand new perspective I gained from reading this book, a new perspective of people. People do not fit in cookie cutters or molds, every person is unique. To me this book is all about perspective. It explores the different perspectives of people with autism, and perspectives of prisoners in jail, but most importantly it forces you to explore your own perspective on life. It makes you want to take a step back and think about why you see things the way you do. I think that everyone should read this book no matter what age they are or where they come from, because it will make anyone give a second thought to their perspective. It is definitely saying something that this book evoked such deep thoughts in me even as a fourth grader!


      …more

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      Kristine Hansen

      Oct 30, 2012

      rated it
      liked it

      Shelves:
      chapter-book ,
      historical ,
      coming-of-age ,
      kids ,
      autism ,
      favorites

      I’d heard a lot about this book and am very glad I finally picked it up. For one thing, you’ve got Alcatraz – what’s not to like about the country’s most famous prison for a setting for a kid’s book?

      Oh don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a book for little kids, it’s actually aimed at middle readers though older readers can get a lot out of it too.

      Now we add in the depression, one of the world’s most famous criminals, and autism and you’ve got something interesting.

      Yep, I said autism.

      This isn’t so
      I’d heard a lot about this book and am very glad I finally picked it up. For one thing, you’ve got Alcatraz – what’s not to like about the country’s most famous prison for a setting for a kid’s book?

      Oh don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a book for little kids, it’s actually aimed at middle readers though older readers can get a lot out of it too.

      Now we add in the depression, one of the world’s most famous criminals, and autism and you’ve got something interesting.

      Yep, I said autism.

      This isn’t so much about the prison as the relationships of those who live and work there. It’s not just a historical story or bit of humorous school story, but you’ve got family and secrets and the painful truths of what it’s like to live with someone who doesn’t fit in, especially when that family doesn’t even understand what’s wrong with the eldest child.

      I loved this book. I will definitely seek out the rest of the series. Highly recommended!
      …more

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      Ava Pratt

      Feb 26, 2018

      rated it
      did not like it

      Recommends it for:
      those who like historical fiction and some social issues!

      Moose is a normal boy except for the fact that his sister has Aspergers, she is incredibly intelligent. They just moved to the historic island of Alcatraz and finds that it’s not as easy as you think it is. There are many rules that they need to follow, and Moose does the opposite. He recently moved to a different school and is told that his sister isn’t doing well in her new class. Things are hard in Moose’s new house with moving to Alcatraz and much more.

      I gave this book one star because over
      Moose is a normal boy except for the fact that his sister has Aspergers, she is incredibly intelligent. They just moved to the historic island of Alcatraz and finds that it’s not as easy as you think it is. There are many rules that they need to follow, and Moose does the opposite. He recently moved to a different school and is told that his sister isn’t doing well in her new class. Things are hard in Moose’s new house with moving to Alcatraz and much more.

      I gave this book one star because overall Al Capone does my shirts was a very slow read, it was hard for it to keep your attention. Those who love some historical fiction books might enjoy this book. But, I felt it only deserved one star.
      …more

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      Lorna

      Feb 19, 2013

      rated it
      it was amazing

       · 
      review of another edition

      Shelves:
      families-siblings ,
      historical-fiction ,
      audiobook ,
      middle-grade ,
      favorite ,
      middle-school

      I know I’m late to discovering this one, but it is just terrific. Great historical fiction, but also a whole lot more as we watch Moose navigate a move, new school, and the challenges of having a sister who today we’d identify as having autism. Choldenko’s development of Moose’s character is masterful. She nailed the adolescent firestorm of emotions.

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      booklady

      Jul 14, 2008

      rated it
      really liked it

      Recommended to booklady by:
      my dear sister, Julie
      Shelves:
      2007 ,
      children ,
      crime ,
      education ,
      family ,
      all-ages ,
      historical-fiction ,
      youth

      Wonderful story about family life on the island of Alcatraz. In particular, this book focuses on a young boy and his autistic sister in a time before special schools and programs were available to help families. It combines humor, speculative history, unusual setting and perceptive empathy for children who are different and those who love them. All-in-all a very memorable and enjoyable book.

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      Laura

      Sep 10, 2015

      rated it
      it was amazing

      Shelves:
      children-young-adult

      One of the best middle-grade books I have read. It’s fabulous! It’s both funny and very much tender. It is set in 1935 but very much feels like it’s happening at this very moment. The relationship between the main character and his sister is so well done. Absolutely a great read for age 10 and up!

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      James

      Mar 24, 2017

      rated it
      really liked it

      I thoroughly was impressed and surprised by this book. I was afraid it would be a little “censored” and unintelligent. We all know those books. Overall location was a pretty good idea. The ending was perfect. Goes to show that some people can have insane amounts of power, no matter the challenges.

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      Robin

      Dec 03, 2008

      rated it
      it was amazing

      This big kid adored this book for kids and the audio version with narration by Johnny Heller is superb.

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      Stormi (BMReviewsohmy)

      Feb 07, 2018

      rated it
      really liked it

      I was looking around on overdrive trying to find some cute MG books to read because I was just in the mood for something light and fun. I ran across Al Capone Does My Shirts and I had heard of it before and forgotten about it so decided to check it out.

      I am glad that I did because it was a really good read.

      It’s 1935 and Moose Flanagan is twelve years old and his family is moving to Alcatraz Island because his father got a job working as an electrician/guard. Moose thinks this is going to be the
      I was looking around on overdrive trying to find some cute MG books to read because I was just in the mood for something light and fun. I ran across Al Capone Does My Shirts and I had heard of it before and forgotten about it so decided to check it out.

      I am glad that I did because it was a really good read.

      It’s 1935 and Moose Flanagan is twelve years old and his family is moving to Alcatraz Island because his father got a job working as an electrician/guard. Moose thinks this is going to be the worst thing to happen to him and they only moved their because his sister needs to go to a special school.

      He meets some interesting characters and makes some good friends so things are not horrible. Piper is the warden’s kid and he spends half his time mad at her and the other half thinking she is kind of cute. He has to watch out hanging with her because she can get him in trouble quicker than anything and if he gets in trouble it could get him and his family kicked off the island.

      I thought this was a great coming of age type story and it also deals with a heavier of issue of living with a family member who is autistic. I don’t know many people with autism so I don’t know if it’s accurate but the author has a sister with autism so I am pretty sure it is spot on. I felt sorry for Moose as he loved his sister but she could make him so mad, having to put off doing what he wanted to watch his sister or having to take her with him. He is at an age where taking your sister along with you is not cool, but most of his friends are pretty cool with hanging with her.

      The author using a lot of historical facts about alcatraz and puts fictional spin on it that makes it a great read and I think both young boys and girls with enjoy this series. I know I can’t wait to listen to the next one in this series.

      The narrator Kirby Heyborne does a great job with this book, he has a really pleasant voice that is easy to listen too. I listened to this on 1.75 speed.

      …more

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      Ayla

      Oct 24, 2018

      rated it
      really liked it

       · 
      review of another edition


      This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it,
      click here.

      Great story of a family that moves to Alcatraz. It deals with having a family member who is autistic back in 1936 when little was known of this condition. Moose is 12 and his sister Natalie is 10 for 5 years straight, she is autistic and that is how her mother deals with it by saying she is younger. She feels that as a child Natalie has a better chance of getting help. Mom is always trying to help her daughter by looking for special schools and treatments. It is hard on the family . Luckily Dad
      Great story of a family that moves to Alcatraz. It deals with having a family member who is autistic back in 1936 when little was known of this condition. Moose is 12 and his sister Natalie is 10 for 5 years straight, she is autistic and that is how her mother deals with it by saying she is younger. She feels that as a child Natalie has a better chance of getting help. Mom is always trying to help her daughter by looking for special schools and treatments. It is hard on the family . Luckily Dad finds a job at Alcatraz and is able to move the family there. It is less expensive and is safer with all the giuards there. This is during the depression. And Al Capone is there too!
      …more

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      Damien Goodwin

      Jan 19, 2018

      rated it
      really liked it

      This is a really good book, I recommend this book to History lovers.

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      3 likes  ·  Like
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      Sophia

      Jun 28, 2018

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      2018-coyer-big-summer-bash ,
      2018-library-love-challenge ,
      2018-romance-roundabout-challenge ,
      historical-fiction ,
      mg ,
      ya

      I had a blast listening to the audio of book four in the Al Capone at Alcatraz series so I was eager to go back and get the earlier adventures of Moose Flannagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and the rest of the kids growing up on Alcatraz Island in the 1930’s.

      Al Capone Does My Shirts opens with Moose and his family moving to Alcatraz where his dad got a job as both prison guard and electrician. His mom teaches music lessons. And, they are there so his sister can get into a special school in Sa
      I had a blast listening to the audio of book four in the Al Capone at Alcatraz series so I was eager to go back and get the earlier adventures of Moose Flannagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and the rest of the kids growing up on Alcatraz Island in the 1930’s.

      Al Capone Does My Shirts opens with Moose and his family moving to Alcatraz where his dad got a job as both prison guard and electrician. His mom teaches music lessons. And, they are there so his sister can get into a special school in San Francisco that might help her.

      Moose doesn’t want to be there and he struggles getting settled into a new home, life on Alcatraz, Jr. High over in San Francisco, and accepting how things have to be. He’s just getting his footing making friends at school and getting into a baseball game, getting tangled up in Piper, the Warden’s conniving daughter’s schemes when his mom insists he has to watch over his sister while both his parents pick up more work to afford to put Natalie in the special school.

      Like with book four, I found the descriptions of family life, life on Alcatraz, the historical setting, the characters, and the plot were quite engaging. People from middle grade through adults would have a good time with this one. I’m definitely going to keep going with catching up on the series.
      …more

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      J.P.

      Apr 14, 2012

      rated it
      really liked it

       · 
      review of another edition

      This is why it pays for writers to be creative. I was looking around for books by authors I hadn’t read before and I remembered the title so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did.
      The setting is original. Imagine moving to and growing up on Alcatraz. The book is centered on Moose, whose father works as an electrician and guard. He has an autistic older sister named Natalie and his nemesis on the island is Piper who just happens to be the warden’s daughter.
      You can’t help but feel sorry for Moose and Na

      This is why it pays for writers to be creative. I was looking around for books by authors I hadn’t read before and I remembered the title so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did.
      The setting is original. Imagine moving to and growing up on Alcatraz. The book is centered on Moose, whose father works as an electrician and guard. He has an autistic older sister named Natalie and his nemesis on the island is Piper who just happens to be the warden’s daughter.
      You can’t help but feel sorry for Moose and Natalie is a little conniver if there ever was one. The author captures the spirit of the kids and for the most part does a fine job of developing the characters, especially Natalie. Moose’s personality however, varies a shade too much. Yes, Al Capone is in the story but marginally without any dialogue.
      A funny, entertaining light read. I notice this book carries the suffix #1. I hope the author doesn’t run this idea into the ground with a load of sequels. There’s only so much you can do with a small island. Patrick McGoohan had the right idea. (Say what? You’re not a fan of The Prisoner? You should be.)
      Okay, plug over. It’s worth 4 stars.

      …more

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      Tina

      Sep 10, 2015

      rated it
      it was amazing

      Shelves:
      for-the-kid-in-you

      A middle grade Newberry Honor book that a big kid like me could fully appreciate. Based on historical facts, this book takes place on the Island of Alcatraz in 1935. It’s the story of Moose Flanagan and his family who are forced to move to Alcatraz when Moose’s father takes a job as electrician and guard at the prison. A place where tough criminals like Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly were incarcerated. Moose is 12 and trying to find his way in a new community while helping care of his
      A middle grade Newberry Honor book that a big kid like me could fully appreciate. Based on historical facts, this book takes place on the Island of Alcatraz in 1935. It’s the story of Moose Flanagan and his family who are forced to move to Alcatraz when Moose’s father takes a job as electrician and guard at the prison. A place where tough criminals like Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly were incarcerated. Moose is 12 and trying to find his way in a new community while helping care of his special needs sister Natalie. Today, Natalie would most likely be diagnosed as Autistic, but in 1935 Autism had yet to be named.

      This is a book both funny and touching. I chose the audio version of the book and the narrator did not disappoint. Excited to read or listen to the next book in the series.
      …more

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      Beth Knight

      Apr 30, 2013

      rated it
      really liked it

      Shelves:
      childrens ,
      own-it

      I enjoyed reading this and plan on reading the other two in the series: Al Capone Shines My Shoes and Al Capone does my homework. While this is obviously a work of fiction it is historically accurate. I find Alcatraz intersting and the fact that families lived on the island during the prison’s existence absolutely fascinating.

      The book’s characters are fascinating as well. I loved the interaction between the protagonist, Mathew (a.k.a. Moose) and his sister, Natalie. Natalie is autistic so it wa
      I enjoyed reading this and plan on reading the other two in the series: Al Capone Shines My Shoes and Al Capone does my homework. While this is obviously a work of fiction it is historically accurate. I find Alcatraz intersting and the fact that families lived on the island during the prison’s existence absolutely fascinating.

      The book’s characters are fascinating as well. I loved the interaction between the protagonist, Mathew (a.k.a. Moose) and his sister, Natalie. Natalie is autistic so it was interesting to see how that was handled during 1935, the year in which the book takes place. The Warden’s daughter, Piper, is a “little firecracker” and so I found the parts of the story that involved her to be fun.
      …more

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      The Common Thread of a Polo, Tennis and Golf Shirts

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      About Gennifer Choldenko

      Gennifer Choldenko
      530
      followers

      There’s a Lego in my bum which fits with the Lego in my chair and when I sit down to write, I hear the satisfying snap of the two pieces fitting together. I love words, dictionaries, thesauruses, sharp pencils, the smell of book ink and the delicious art of carving out sentences on clean white paper. I love to slip into another person’s skin and feel what it’s like to live another life. I love whe
      There’s a Lego in my bum which fits with the Lego in my chair and when I sit down to write, I hear the satisfying snap of the two pieces fitting together. I love words, dictionaries, thesauruses, sharp pencils, the smell of book ink and the delicious art of carving out sentences on clean white paper. I love to slip into another person’s skin and feel what it’s like to live another life. I love when characters come to me out of nowhere and make me cry so hard my mascara runs or laugh until my stomach hurts. I love the crazy fun and infinite possibility of storytelling.

      What prepared me for a life of writing fiction? Though I have a BA from Brandeis University in English and American Literature and a BFA in illustration from Rhode Island School of Design, the true answer is probably genes. I come from a long line of Irish storytellers on my father’s side and theatre people on my mother’s. I always knew I loved to write, but it took me a long time to summon the courage to chase the dream. I finally went for it when I realized I would prefer to be a failure at something I wanted to do, then a success at something I didn’t.

      While I was pretending I wasn’t a writer, trying to be a nice person with a nice quiet job somewhere, I sold lingerie, lipstick and lamp shades. I wrote junk mail. I taught visually and hearing-impaired kids horseback riding. I held a prestigious job in rubbish removal and I worked in a factory wearing a paper gown while wielding a large mallet on small serving packages of ketchup.

      One Third Nerd, my funniest novel yet, is due out in January 2019. My most famous novel, Al Capone Does My Shirts, garnered 20 awards, one of which was the Newbery Honor. The Tales of Alcatraz series has sold more than 2 million copies. What will probably be the last book in the series: Al Capone Throws Me a Curve is the best of the fifteen books I’ve written so far.

      I am a fitness fanatic; a book-obsessed, tennis-playing woman who thinks like a twelve-year-old. If I ever get the good fortune to meet you, offer me coffee and I will be your friend for life.

      …more

      Other books in the series


      Al Capone at Alcatraz

      (4 books)

      • Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #2)

      • Al Capone Does My Homework (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #3)

      • Al Capone Throws Me a Curve (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #4)

      Books by Gennifer Choldenko

      Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #2)
      Al Capone Does My Homework (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #3)
      No Passengers Beyond This Point
      If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
      Chasing Secrets

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      Trivia About Al Capone Does My…

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      Quotes from Al Capone Does My…

      “Nobody knows how things will turn out, that’s why they go ahead and play the game…You give it your all and sometimes amazing things happen, but it’s hardly ever what you expect.”


      131 likes

      “Now I understand. When you love someone, you have to try things even if they don’t make sense to anyone else.”


      52 likes

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