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

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

by Gennifer Choldenko


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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142403709
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 04/20/2006
Series: Tales from Alcatraz Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 13,077
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 1.70(d)
Lexile: 600L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Gennifer Choldenko received a B.A. from Brandeis University, graduating cum laude with honors, and a B.F.A. in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. Gennifer’s first picture book is titled Moonstruck: The True Story of the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon. Reviewers called Moonstruck "hilarious" (School Library Journal), "hysterical, irreverent" (National Parenting Center), and "a giggle from beginning to end" (Publishers Weekly). Gennifer 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. After that, anything strange and funny became known as a Gennifer Joke.

Currently, she lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and their two children. When she is not writing, she likes to draw animals at the zoo, especially crocodiles and turtles because they lie perfectly still. Notes From a Liar and Her Dog is her first novel for children.

Table of Contents

Part 1
1.Devil's Island3
2.Errand Boy7
3.Trick Monkey13
4.American Laugh-Nosed Beet22
5.Murderers Darn My Socks29
7.Big for Seventh Grade42
8.Prison Guy Plays Ball48
9.Nice Little Church Boy53
10.Not Ready60
11.The Best in the Country64
12.What About the Electric Chair?71
13.One-Woman Commando Unit80
14.Al Capone's Baseball87
15.Looking for Scarface90
16.Capone Washed Your Shirts98
17.Baseball on Tuesday103
18.Not on My Team106
19.Daddy's Little Miss109
Part 2
21.It Never Rains on Monday125
22.Al Capone's Mama130
23.She's not Cute135
24.Like a Regular Sister140
25.My Gap143
26.Convict Baseball147
28.Tall for Her Age154
29.Convict Choir Boy159
31.My Dad171
32.The Button Box174
Part 3
33.The Sun and the Moon179
34.Happy Birthday186
35.The Truth192
37.Carrie Kelly199
38.What happened?205
39.The Warden212
40.Al Capone Does My Shirts215
Author's Note217

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Choldenko's pacing is exquisite. . . . [A] great read."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Customer Reviews

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Al Capone Does My Shirts 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 430 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just read the first few chapters and was hooked!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cant put it down and i HATE TO READ tells u some thing
Faun Baldizzi More than 1 year ago
A must read if your kids tour Alcatrez! Both my daughter and son enjoyed both Al Capone books very much and finished them quickly.
Danibelle More than 1 year ago
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.
karlee_1543 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book I read for this review was called Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko, and I rated it with a lucky 3 stars. Why did I choose this middle rating? Well, to be honest, Al Capone Does My Shirts was not the Newberry Winner I expected it to be. I imagined an actually possible story line (which I will explain farther on down in this review.) I also wished for more of Al Capone, quite honestly, to be in this book ¿ most of it was the typical boy-meets-friends, friends work together to solve big mystery/problem. Probable story plot, right? Well, I expected more of a complex storyline for a Newberry Winner. Moose Flannagan has mixed feelings on his new home on Alcatraz Island, once a famous prison, prided on taking the worst of the worst. The time frame is 1935 ¿ and Moose¿s sister Natalie has the unidentified condition of autism. Moose has a love of baseball, and at school, becomes rather like an outcast, for a simple reason ¿ he cannot stay after school to play ball with the guys. Why not? He must tend to tantrum-prone Natalie, whom his mother babies and his father sympathizes for. Moose, however, is the only one who reaches Natalie, and he has very different ideas about how Natalie should be brought up. His mother is desperately trying to get Natalie into a special school for autistic and ¿special¿ children. And she must lie about Natalies age ¿ not just for that, but for everything. (As quoted directly from the text on the paperback edition on page 11) - ¿How old is she?¿ the girl whispers. ¿Ten,¿ I answer. Natalies age is always ten. Every year my mom has a party for her and she turns ten again. My mom (going on to page 12) started counting Nat¿s age this screwy way a long time ago. (End quote.) (I personally feel that this is not even possible ¿ I know this is a fictional book, but in the real world, you cannot lie about your age. Period. This just confused me quite a lot. I think, though this was a crucial plot attribute, that it might¿ve been a little far-fetched.) Natalie attracts many raised eyebrows, especially from Warden Williams (who runs the island) and his gorgeous, partially cruel daughter, Piper. Piper is one of those ¿mean girls¿ ¿ pretty on the outside, devilishly scandalous on the inside. She presumes Natalie to be retarded in the beginning, which really sets off her and Moose¿s relationship ¿ which is not very good, but you can see some attraction for the other lurking beneath the cloudy surface. However, Natalie will not get into this special place of belonging without a little help from Al Capone himself, and a realization by her mother that yes, time does move on. If you liked this story, perhaps you might be interested in Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L¿Engle, Holes by Louis Sachar, and Undercrurrents be Willo Davis Roberta. Just for the record, I¿m a 7th grader who enjoys to dance and cheerlead. This book may interest more of the baseball/basketball type.
StaceyTate on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book about a boy named Moose who moved to alcatraz Island with his mom, dad, and sister Natalie. He meets new friends, goes to a new school, and winds up loving it. In the begininng this book was mostly about Moose and hes problems but in the end he is so involved with helping Natalie and his family he doesnt really miss his old friends much anymore. He is a great kid.This book was one of the best books i have ever read, no matter what level of kid it was written for i got much more from this book than i ever thought i could. I would read this book to anyone who would listen. I simply could not put it down.In the classroom i would either read this at the start or finish of a school year to show kids that change is ok and you will love it some time or another. It has taken the place of Charoletts Web for me... I could also use it to talk about differences in kids so that they will understand and be lkind to those with special needs
lisagibson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Al Capone Does My Shirts was a wonderful read, crammed full of amazing things. Moose had so much personality and was a wonderful set of eyes to view this story through. It spoke to the importance of family and friends. How much love and belief in a person¿s ability can spur them on. It gave a brief glimpse to the darker time, when many considered these children ¿disposable¿, but the strength of one family who refused to go that route and their heart-breaking realization that time marches on. However, more than anything it¿s a story of joy in the simple things and love for one another. It¿s a story of triumph and acceptance.
annikasmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The character of Moose is very round and dynamic. We as readers know a lot about his thoughts, feelings, struggles and life. We learn about him through his thoughts, reflections and actions. Moose is a boy about 12 years of age who has a sister with Autism and living on Alcatraz during the great depression. He struggles with how to deal with his sister, making new friends, and his relationship with his parents. He starts out by thinking his sister is annoying and that she can never be normal. Throughout the story he learns a lot more about his sister and that she can have friends and lead a bit more normal life than he would have ever imagined. He begins to understand her more and love her in a new way. This story is a good example of realistic fiction. It has a very believable story line and the characters are presented with all their flaws. This makes the characters much more realistic. The novel has realistic struggles, conflicts and joys. What the characters are living through is something that seems entirely possible. It is a novel about real life. It is also a historical fiction novel because it has the setting of Alcatraz island during the 1930s. This setting comes into play in the unfolding of the story. Art Media: noneAppropriate Age: Middle School, High School
phoenixcomet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An engaging reading of Al Capone Does My Shirts, showing both the frustrations of a 12 year old boy and the responsibility of same in relation to his dysfunctional family. The year is 1935 and his sister Natalie has mental issues (undiagnosed autism). Moose's mother is preoccupied with Natalie to the extent of being oblivious to Moose himself. But Moose is a good brother and brings Natalie around with his friends, and it does make a difference. The scenes depicting life on Alcatraz Island are based completely on fact.
The_Hibernator on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
12-year-old Moose Flanagan is angry when his family uproots and moves to Alcatraz island so his father can work as a prison guard. Additionally, he must accept the responsibility of an adult sooner than he wishes because he needs to help his parents take care of his mentally-disabled older sister. I got a few chuckles as Moose tried to adjust to his new responsibilities, new home, and new friends and enemies. The book was both frustrating (because of Moose¿s situation) and humorous at the same time. Overall, a light, funny, and meaningful read.
sammynop on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a boy whose nickname is Moose. He's forced to live on Alcatraz Island. His neighbors are some regular people and some of the most dangerous people like Al Capone. Moose's dad is a guard and an electrician. Moose's sister, Natalie, is diagnosed with autism. Autism is when your brain still acts like a kid. So Natalie who is sixteen, still has temper tantrums. Moose's mom has been trying to get Natalie into a school for kids with autism. Moose has been trying to go back to San Fransisco. Later on in the book, Moose realizes that living on Alcatraz Island is safer than any other place.I agreed with Moose for a little bit because I thought that San Fransisco was safer. But then I saw that maybe his mother was right. Alcatraz was safer because there are always guards around. The people on Alcatraz didn't have to worry about being taking hostage. I like how Moose gave up baseball to watch his sister. This book was very funny.
MrJPenguin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: This story tells the tale of Moose, just your average kid who has recently moved to the infamous island of Alcatraz, home to a good number of some of the undesirable criminals in existence. Life seems to be a struggle for Moose, not only because his father is a prison guard, but also because his sister Natalie has what is known only as autism. Faced with ridicule from a girl named Piper who also lives on Alcatraz, Moose finds himself some interesting adventures with his new life, one of which is writing a letter to a man with something powerful; connections. This man is none other than Al Capone.Personal Reaction: This is defintely an enjoyable book. I find myself liking Moose due to having something in common with him; an austistic sibling. This book really is an interesting read to say the least.Classroom Extension Ideas:1. Have the students write a letter to any famous historical criminal other than Al Capone such as Bonny and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, or Jessie James.2. Sit the children down and see if any of them have a disabled relative or know anyone who is disabled and how they feel about it.
caitsm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this historical fiction novel, the reader meets a gang of kids who live on Alcatraz island where the famous Al Capone is imprisoned. Each of these kids' parents are workers on the island. There is a lot of rich history in this novel which can be great to help spark a history discussion. One of the characters--Natalie--has autism, which can also spark great discussion of special needs students and the differences and similarities all kids share. Although this book is fiction, the many aspects of it are great for a learning experience for a classroom.
porch_reader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1935 Moose Flanagan, a likeable 12-year-old boy, moves with his family to Alcatraz Island. His father has taken a job as an electrician at the famous prison, and his mother hopes to enroll Moose's sister Natalie in a San Francisco school that specializes in helping children who would now be diagnosed as autistic. On the Island, Moose meets an interesting cast of characters, including the warden's daughter Piper and precocious seven-year-old Theresa. He deals with the problems of a normal 12-year-old boy, and he struggles to help his sister live a normal life. This was a wonderful story. The layers fit together beautifully. Moose's girl troubles (mostly with Piper) and his love of baseball could have been a part of many stories about boys this age. But the added elements of having an autistic sister and living in the shadows of Alcatraz set this book apart. Choldenko creates a believable and extremely likeable character in Moose. His relationship with his sister Natalie is touching. His reactions to his parents ring true for a 12-year-old boy. And his frustrations with Piper had me laughing out loud. I highly recommend this book. For those of you who like audio books, I thought this one was especially well done. The narrator was great, and the story definitely held my attention.
Citizenjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a YA book whose main character is 12 years old, but it feels to me like the story is intended for older children. In spite of the humor and the reference to playing baseball, there are some heavy topics here, particularly the question of how much a parent should be willing to sacrifice the happiness of one child to pursue happiness for another. The story is set in 1935, before the diagnosis of autism was devised and covers a neurotypical young man who is on the verge of puberty and his sister who is somewhat older than the 10 years her mother claims for her. Which leads to the other heavy topic, what do we do with disabled children after they grow past the "cute" phase and grow toward adulthood? I recommend this book to anyone interested in the ways to care for children with disabilities and how such care was given in the past. It's also a very accurate view of the early years of Alcatraz.
etwinney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Al Capone Does My Shirts is a charming historical fiction novel about a boy name Moose and his family who lives on Alcatraz. More than anything this is a story of a brothers love for his sister. It is a funny story that will be good in getting boys into historical fiction.
TPA_Teacher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
How would you like to live on Alcatraz? No, not as a prisoner, but as a family member of the prison staff. This story is set back in the days when Alcatraz was a prison (1935) and not a historical museum. This story is told from 12 year old Moose's viewpoint. His dad gets a job at the prison and his family relocates. Moose's sister is autistic and each family member deals with her behaviors differently. This condition was not well recognized in the 1930's and only special boarding schools would take students with autism. Moose has to spend a lot of time with his sister because his parents work. This cuts into his free time and his conflicted feelings about his sister Natalie are realistic. This is a fun story that gives a peek into what it would be like to live next to a prison and some of the different procedures you have to use. (Like going through "security" when you leave and return to the Island on the ferry.) The author includes a lot of facts throughout the story and includes information at the back about what was real and what was fiction. I liked the book because it was a good story, not too sad (Natalie's autism), enjoyed the facts about that place and time, and it kept my attention to read it through in one setting. A definite recommendation for 4th - 6th grade students.
cassinolan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a family who lives on Alcatraz island. A young boy "moose" who has a strong love for his little sister, and meets many amazing people on this small island. This book exposes children to the concepts of having a sibling of family member with a disability and struggles they may have.
juju1220 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved this book we used for our Lit circle book. It not only gives the reader the information about living on the Island of Alcatraz but gives it to you in the form of a young boy who lives there with his family. This book also shares the idea of having a family member that has a disability. This is a great read for students third grade and up.
ALelliott on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever been to Alcatraz? You know, the big island prison off right off the shore of San Francisco? The one no one ever escaped from? Now, it's a spooky tourist destination, but in the 1930's, Alcatraz was the most notorious prison in the country, where the worst of the worst were sent as punishment for unspeakable crimes. And Moose, the hero of Gennifer Choldenko's Al Capone Does My Shirts, actually lives there. No, he's not a prisoner, he's your average 12-year-old kid whose dad happened to take a job on the island. He has a not-so-typical sister, Natalie, and a love-hate relationship with the warden's cute daughter, Piper. All Moose wants to do is take care of his family and play some baseball, but on Alcatraz, surprises and trouble lurk around every corner.This book is exciting and funny. Moose is like any average almost-teenager, learning to navigate social mores, only he has to do it under the watchful eye of a maximum-security prison. The characters are true to life and lovable, and even the infamous Al Capone makes a cameo appearance. Students will get hints as to how hard life was during the great Depression, although historical details are sparse enough that readers may forget this is historical fiction. Additionally, they may want to research Al Capone and find out why the guys is such a big deal to the characters in the novel, as this is never fully explained. Perhaps the best part of this book is how Choldenko handles the relationship between Moose and Natalie. The autism diagnosis did not exist in the 1930's when this story takes place, so to most of the characters, Natalie is just crazy, someone who should be locked up for her own good and the good of everyone around her. But Moose's family takes the progressive approach of trying to "cure" her. While the reader knows this isn't possible, it is refreshing to see Natalie treated with dignity and love, while the novel is still portraying the honest frustration Moose sometimes feels.For ages 9 and up.
bissettm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An intriguing work of historical fiction, readers follow Moose Flanagan and his friends on their adventures living on Alcatraz Island with the most dangerous and famous fugitives in the country. Not only will kids laugh and be on the edge of their seats, but Moose's relationship with his sister, a young woman with autism, will pull at their heartstrings.
brborsen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very intriguing story. It is a piece of historical fiction that deals with a few serious topics in a light hearted way. This story brings up topics as deep as autism and crime. You see these through the relationships that Moose Flannigan has with his sister and the inmates at Alcatraz. This was a very good book and I am now interested in reading the sequel, "Al Capone Shines My Shoes."