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Al Capone Does My Shirts (Tales from Alcatraz Series #1)

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Overview

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 ...
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Al Capone Does My Shirts (Tales from Alcatraz Series #1)

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Overview

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.

A 2005 Newbery Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Natalie's story is an important thread, sensitively handled. But what stays in the mind is the teeming mini-society of the island, where guards' families really did live and where a kid really might have encountered Al Capone, an inmate at Alcatraz from 1934 to 1939. — Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
In our Best Books citation, PW said of this tale set in 1935, "Choldenko captures the tense, nuanced family dynamics touched off by the narrator's sister's disability as skillfully as she handles the mystique of Alcatraz." Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
In 1935, notorious gangster Al Capone is one of three hundred convicts housed in the maximum-security penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. Twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan also lives on the island. His father has taken a position as an electrician and guard at the prison in hopes that Moose's sister, Natalie, will be accepted at a special school in nearby San Francisco. Not only has Moose been forced to leave friends behind and move with his family to a fortress island, but he also cannot play baseball or make new friends now because he is stuck taking care of his sister whenever he is not in school. Natalie is afflicted with the condition now known as autism, and even at age sixteen, she cannot be left unsupervised. Everyone in the family has been under a strain because of Natalie's special needs. Meanwhile Piper, the warden's pretty, spoiled daughter, makes life complicated for Moose. The island's residents have their laundry done by the convicts, and thrill-seeking Piper drags Moose into her wild stunt of marketing Al Capone's laundry services to their middle school classmates in San Francisco. But when his family desperately needs a break in their efforts to get help for Natalie, Moose knows that only Piper has the connections and the audacity to help him pull off a reckless scheme involving the island's most famous inmate. Choldenko, author of Notes from a Liar and Her Dog (Putnam's, 2001/VOYA August 2001), weaves three As—Alcatraz, Al Capone, and autism—into an excellent historical novel for middle-grade readers. A large, annotated 1935 photograph of Alcatraz Island and an informative author's note give substance to the novel's factual sources. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Betterthan most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 240p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Walter Hogan
KLIATT
Jobs are hard to come by in 1935, so Moose's father doesn't hesitate to move his family to Alcatraz when he gets work as a guard there. Moose, age 12, is far from pleased, though. His friends and baseball team are back in San Francisco, his father works long hours, and when his mother takes a job too he is put in charge of minding his sister Natalie. Natalie is older than he is, but she is autistic, and she can be very difficult to deal with at times because of her obsessive behavior and temper tantrums. Meanwhile, Moose meets the warden's attractive but trouble-seeking daughter, Piper. He learns about the island and the prisoners, and reluctantly becomes involved in Piper's schemes, such as charging classmates for the opportunity to have their laundry done by the inmates—hence the title. Al Capone features briefly as a minor character, and in desperation Moose writes to him to ask him to use his influence to gain Natalie a place at a special school, a long-held dream of his mother's. Rather than a novel of gangsters, then, as some might think from the title, this is a coming-of-age tale about a boy dealing with his autistic sister, albeit in an unusual setting—YAs hoping for gory details of criminal and prison life will have to go elsewhere. Choldenko, author of Notes From a Liar and Her Dog, offers a sensitive portrait of autism and how it affects a family, and in a author's note at the end she discusses her research about life on Alcatraz and on autism, and mentions that her own sister has autism. An affecting novel. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, Penguin, Putnam, 240p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
Author Choldenko has written a funny and clever middle grade novel about a boy named Matthew (Moose) Flanagan who is living on Alcatraz Island with his family. The family has moved to the Island because Moose's father has found work as an electrician, and because his sister Natalie, who is autistic, can go to a good school nearby. Moose is not happy about living on the island, especially after meeting the Warden's daughter Piper who is bossy and a bit of a troublemaker. Moose's father has warned him to stay out of trouble because he needs this job and Natalie needs to go to the special school. Moose's life becomes miserable when Piper involves him and a few other island kids in a moneymaking scheme to have their schoolmates' clothes laundered by the convicts on Alcatraz Island. Piper tempts her school chums by claiming that Al Capone, the famous gangster, may even wash their shirts. The scheme falls apart when the Warden finds out what his daughter and friends are up to. Then, to make matters worse, the school that Natalie attends doesn't want her and she has to come home. Moose winds up watching her and has to forego his Monday after-school baseball game. This is an amusing book about interesting characters placed in a different and unlikely setting and trying to make the best of their situation. 2004, G. P. Putnam's Sons, Ages 10 up.
— Della A. Yannuzzi
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.
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786289271
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2007
  • Series: Tales from Alcatraz Series , #1
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 299
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Gennifer Choldenko was the youngest in a family of four kids, where her nickname was “Snot-Nose.” Her quirky sense of humor made its debut at the dinner table when Gennifer was a very little kid. She is the author of seven children’s books, including Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year; If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period; and Al Capone Shines My Shoes.
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Table of Contents

Part 1
1. Devil's Island 3
2. Errand Boy 7
3. Trick Monkey 13
4. American Laugh-Nosed Beet 22
5. Murderers Darn My Socks 29
6. Sucker 35
7. Big for Seventh Grade 42
8. Prison Guy Plays Ball 48
9. Nice Little Church Boy 53
10. Not Ready 60
11. The Best in the Country 64
12. What About the Electric Chair? 71
13. One-Woman Commando Unit 80
14. Al Capone's Baseball 87
15. Looking for Scarface 90
16. Capone Washed Your Shirts 98
17. Baseball on Tuesday 103
18. Not on My Team 106
19. Daddy's Little Miss 109
20. Warning 117
Part 2
21. It Never Rains on Monday 125
22. Al Capone's Mama 130
23. She's not Cute 135
24. Like a Regular Sister 140
25. My Gap 143
26. Convict Baseball 147
27. Idiot 149
28. Tall for Her Age 154
29. Convict Choir Boy 159
30. Eye 165
31. My Dad 171
32. The Button Box 174
Part 3
33. The Sun and the Moon 179
34. Happy Birthday 186
35. The Truth 192
36. Waiting 195
37. Carrie Kelly 199
38. What happened? 205
39. The Warden 212
40. Al Capone Does My Shirts 215
Author's Note 217
Notes 227
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 320 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(182)

4 Star

(80)

3 Star

(19)

2 Star

(15)

1 Star

(24)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 326 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is the greatest book you could ever read.I don't know why you wouldn't read it. This book was exciting and fun.

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2012

    To should i read it

    Yes you schould. This is a great book! I first read it in 5th grade for the Battle of Books, now I am in 7th grade now. I have now read the second book also. My favorite is still the first!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Great book

    I just read the first few chapters and was hooked!

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a really good book.you should read it=]

    Book Review Outline
    Book title and author: Al Capone Does My Shirt by Gennifer Choldenko
    Title of review: A Very Good Book
    Number of stars (1 to 5): four

    Introduction
    A twelve year old boy named Moose Flanagan and his family lived on the island named Alcatraz. Moose is a bit mischief, not only because he lives on Alcatraz, but because he can't play baseball after school with his friends. His mom is making him stay at home and watch his little sister named Natalie. Natalie has autism that is your have to be constantly doing something.

    Description and summary of main points
    Moose met a new girl today at school and her name was Theresa. She was a nice little girl. Moose wanted to find this baseball for his friend named piper.
    Evaluation
    Moose gets stuck in some different situations. Some of the situations are that Natalie has to be playing with something all of the time.

    Conclusion
    Moose went and found a baseball and he found on. But Natalie was sitting there on a big rock playing with little rocks and there was a Alcatraz prisoner that came up too her. The Alcatraz prisoner's number was 105 and that's all that Natalie talked about after that time.

    Your final review
    This book is an awesome book. I would highly recommend you to read this book because it is a good book. If I could rate it I would rate it to be five stars. You would have an awesome time sitting down reading it. It is enjoying book.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    Book review by the status seter

    Extrenely confusing! But..... if you must, i guess it gits a three, but remember, i am being nice.(ok maybe its a little good)

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    Adicting

    Cant put it down and i HATE TO READ tells u some thing

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Great

    Im reading this in class and this is great im hoping to get this to read the rest

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 31, 2010

    My kids loved this book!

    A must read if your kids tour Alcatrez! Both my daughter and son enjoyed both Al Capone books very much and finished them quickly.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Not Your Average Al Capone Book

    This is a great historical novel for children. It deals with the political, social and economic issues of the time along with issues that every preteen has to face- friendship, family, romance. On top of all the good lessons that can be learned from the book, it's also very funny and has engaging characters. Strongly recommend.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I bet this book made a lot of cha-ching ($) !!!!!!!!!!!

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    Hunter

    This is very good

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2012

    I dont really like jj I don I dont like it that much

    Its not that instering

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2009

    Al Capone Does My Shirts by Genifer Choldenko

    This book teaches you about being there when somebody needs you with them and how even though they may not be perfect, you will always need a good friend.

    Moose and his family move to Alcatraz Island. While they are there, they face many problems with his sister because she suffers from autism. She has to go to a new school, but can't seem to fit in because of her autism. Moose has to help her through the hardships that come with starting a new school, moving, and not fitting in, along with dealing with problems of his own. Moose is a caring brother but gets aggravated with his sister very often because she can embarrass him at times.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2006

    Wow, a great adventure!

    Al Capone Does my Shirts is so funny in parts, serious in others, and sad, too. Moose and his family move to Alcatraz so his father can be a prison guard and his sister can go to a special school. Moose is a loving brother and has a strong heart, but he always seems to find himself in trouble when around his new friend Piper. I don't want to tell you everything so you'll ahve to read this great book for yourself to find out all the inbetween details.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014

    .

    Ok, but not the best. You should try 'No passengers beyond this point.' It is by the same author, can be sad.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013

    B double o t y tone and the cheifrocca

    This book is great but it is a little boring in the beginning but overall a good book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    Natalie nice

    Natalie like buttons

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2013

    Good book

    Very good book to read even thouh i never read it

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Sample

    Dont get the sample its 2 stupid pages long

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    Should i read it?

    Should i read it?

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 326 Customer Reviews

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