Al Capone Does My Shirts
Al Capone Does My Shirts

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Series: Tales From Alcatraz Vol. 1   

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Annotation: Twelve-year-old Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and must deal with his extraordinary new environment.
Catalog Number: #8883
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
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Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition Date: 2006
Pages: 228 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-14-240370-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-50449-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-14-240370-9 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-50449-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2002031766
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Twelve-year-old Moose moves to Alcatraz in 1935 so his father can work as a prison guard and his younger, autistic sister, Natalie, can attend a special school in San Francisco. It is a time when the federal prison is home to notorious criminals like gangster Al Capone. Depressed about having to leave his friends and winning baseball team behind, Moose finds little to be happy about on Alcatraz. He never sees his dad, who is always working; and Natalie's condition-- her tantrums and constant needs--demand all his mother's attention. Things look up for Moose when he befriends the irresistible Piper, the warden's daughter, who has a knack for getting Moose into embarrassing but harmless trouble. Helped by Piper, Moose eventually comes to terms with his new situation. With its unique setting and well-developed characters, this warm, engaging coming-of-age story has plenty of appeal, and Choldenko offers some fascinating historical background on Alcatraz Island in an afterword.
Horn Book
When his father gets a job as an electrician at Alcatraz, Moose's family moves to the famous prison island. Against this vividly evoked setting, Moose butts heads with the warden's scheming daughter and gets help from a surprising source for his older sister, who exhibits the symptoms of autism (the book is set in 1935, before the disease was identified). The solid novel concludes with a historical note.
Kirkus Reviews
Moose's world is turned upside down when his family moves to Alcatraz Island where his Dad has taken a job as a prison guard. Super-responsible Moose, big for 12, finds himself caught in the social interactions of this odd cut-off world. He cares for his sister who is older, yet acts much younger due to her autism and he finds his life alternating between frustration and growth. His mother focuses all of her attention on ways to cure the sister; his dad works two jobs and meekly accepts the mother's choices; his fellow island-dwellers are a funny mix of oddball characters and good friends. Basing her story on the actual experience of those who supported the prison in the '30s—when Al Capone was an inmate—Choldenko's pacing is exquisite, balancing the tense family dynamics alongside the often-humorous and riveting school story of peer pressure and friendship. Fascinating setting as a metaphor for Moose's own imprisonment and enabling some hysterically funny scenes, but a great read no matter where it takes place. (lengthy author's note with footnotes to sources) (Fiction. 11-14)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-In this appealing novel set in 1935, 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to Alcatraz Island where his father gets a job as an electrician at the prison and his mother hopes to send his autistic older sister to a special school in San Francisco. When Natalie is rejected by the school, Moose is unable to play baseball because he must take care of her, and her unorthodox behavior sometimes lands him in hot water. He also comes to grief when he reluctantly goes along with a moneymaking scheme dreamed up by the warden's pretty but troublesome daughter. Family dilemmas are at the center of the story, but history and setting-including plenty of references to the prison's most infamous inmate, mob boss Al Capone-play an important part, too. The Flanagan family is believable in the way each member deals with Natalie and her difficulties, and Moose makes a sympathetic main character. The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers with an interest in what it was like for the children of prison guards and other workers to actually grow up on Alcatraz Island.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly

Set on Alcatraz Island in 1935, Choldenko's (Notes from a Liar and Her Dog) exceptionally atmospheric novel has equally unusual characters and plot lines. Twelve-year-old narrator Moose Flanagan has just moved to the island, where his father has been hired as an electrician and guard. At first Moose is spooked at being in such close proximity to the nation's most notorious criminals, and he doesn't know what to make of the all-powerful warden's bossy daughter, Piper, who flouts her father's rule about talking about the convicts ("You say [Al Capone's] name and hordes of reporters come crawling out of the woodwork ready to write stories full of foolish lies," the warden explains). At school, on the mainland, Piper hatches a scheme to make money from classmates ("Once in a lifetime opportunity! Get your clothes laundered by Al Capone and other world-famous public enemies!... Only costs 5 cents") and forces Moose to help her. Moose has reasons for staying on Piper's good side: his older sister, Natalie, has what would now be called autism, and Moose worries that her behavior will land the family in trouble with the warden. (Natalie's condition is so poorly understood that an expert tells her desperate mother, "An interesting case... you should consider donating her brain to science when she dies.") Choldenko captures the tense, nuanced family dynamics touched off by Natalie's disability as skillfully as she handles the mystique of Alcatraz and the exchanges between Moose and his friends. Fast-paced and memorable. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)

Word Count: 49,509
Reading Level: 3.5
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.5 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 74909 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.7 / points:13.0 / quiz:Q36125
Lexile: 600L
Guided Reading Level: X
Fountas & Pinnell: X

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 are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cooks or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. And then 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.

A Newbery Honor Book
A New York Times Bestseller
A People magazine "Best kid's Book"
An ALA Book for Young Adults
An ALA Notable Book
A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
A Krikus Reviews Editor's Choice
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Parents' Choice Silver Honor Book
A New York Public Library "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing" Selection
A New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age

*"Choldenko's pacing is exquisite. . . . [A] great read."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
*"Exceptionally atmospheric, fast-paced and memorable!"Publishers Weekly, starred review
*"The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers."School Library Journal, starred review

"Al is the perfect novel for a young guy or moll who digs books by Gordon Korman, or Louis Sachar."Time Out New York for Kids

"Funny situations and plot twists abound!"People magazine

"Heartstopping in some places, heartrending in others, and most of all, it is heartwarming."San Francisco Chronicle



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