Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Tales from Alcatraz Series #2)

Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Tales from Alcatraz Series #2)

by Gennifer Choldenko


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What do you do when your neighbors are a bunch of hit men, con men, and mad dog murderers? Well, if you're Moose Flanagan, you ask the most notorious convict of them all, Al Capone, for help. But when that convict comes through for you-and then asks you for a favor in return-suddenly it's a whole different ball game. Picking up where the Newbery-Honor winning Al Capone Does My Shirts left off, this lively second romp featuring Moose, his friends, and some of Alcatraz's "finest" is just as satisfying as the first.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803734609
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 09/08/2009
Series: Tales from Alcatraz Series , #2
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.06(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.98(d)
Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Gennifer Choldenko is the New York Times bestselling and Newbery Honor Award-winning author of ten children's books, including Notes From a Liar and Her Dog, If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, No Passengers Beyond this Point, Al Capone Does My Shirts, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and Al Capone Does My Homework. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Read an Excerpt

The big question . . .

I don’t know for certain it was Capone who helped us. I mean the guy is locked up in a five-by-nine-foot cell. He’s not allowed to make a phone call or write a letter that isn’t censored word for word. It doesn’t seem possible he could have done anything to help us, even if he wanted to.

But out of desperation, I sent a letter asking Capone for help and Natalie got accepted. Then I got a note in the pocket of my newly laundered shirt. Done, it said.

I haven’t told anyone about this. It’s something I try not to think about, but today, the day Nat’s finally leaving for school, I can’t keep my mind from going over the details again and again.

The thing that stumps me is why. I never even met Al Capone . . . why would he help me?


Al Capone Does My Homework Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts Gennifer Choldenko

The Boy Who Saved Baseball John H. Ritter

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit Paula Danziger

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree Lauren Tarshis

A Long Way from Chicago Richard Peck

Mockingbird Kathryn Erskine

No Passengers Beyond This Point Gennifer Choldenko

Notes from a Liar and Her Dog Gennifer Choldenko

Over the Wall John H. Ritter

Things Not Seen Andrew Clements

Travel Team Mike Lupica

A Year Down Yonder Richard Peck


An imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

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First published in the United States of America by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2009

Published by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2011

Copyright © Gennifer Choldenko, 2009

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.


Choldenko, Gennifer, date.

Al Capone shines my shoes / Gennifer Choldenko.

p. cm.

Summary: Moose Flanagan, who lives on Alcatraz with his family and the families of the other prison guards, is frightened when he discovers that noted gangster Al Capone, a prisoner there, wants a favor in return for the help that he secretly gave Moose. Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN: 978-1-101-15578-3

1. United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, California—Juvenile fiction. [1. United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, California—Fiction. 2. Alcatraz Island (Calif.)—History—20th century—Fiction. 3. Autism—Fiction. 4. Brothers and sisters—Fiction.]

I. Title

PZ7.C446265Ap 2009



The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Table of Contents

The big question

Other Books You May Enjoy

Title Page





Chapter 3. - WILLY ONE ARM




Chapter 7. - ITCHY ALL OVER

Chapter 8. - ICEBOX FLY

Chapter 9. - THAT YOUR BOY, BOSS?

Chapter 10. - A DANGEROUS GAME


Chapter 12. - THE IRISH WAY





Chapter 17. - PIXIE GUARD #1




Chapter 21. - SHINY BUTTONS







Chapter 28. - PIG HALF IN THE POKE



Chapter 31. - THE WARDEN’S PARTY



Chapter 34. - THE BOSS


Chapter 36. - KIDS ON THE ROCK

Chapter 37. - THE YELLOW DRESS




Discussion Guide for Al Capone Shines My Shoes

An Excerpt from Al Capone Does My Homework

To my brother,


Monday, August 5, 1935

Nothing is the way it’s supposed to be when you live on an island with a billion birds, a ton of bird crap, a few dozen rifles, machine guns, and automatics, and 278 of America’s worst criminals—“the cream of the criminal crop” as one of our felons likes to say. The convicts on Alcatraz are rotten to the core, crazy in the head, and as slippery as eels in axle grease.

And then there’s me. Moose Flanagan. I live on Alcatraz along with twenty-four other kids and one more on the way. My father works as a prison guard and an electrician in the cell house up top. I live where most of us “civilians” do, in 64 building, which is dockside on the east side of Alcatraz—a base hit from the mobster Al Capone.

Not many twelve-year-old boys can say that. Not many kids can say that when their toilet is stopped up, they get Seven Fingers, the ax murderer, to help them out, either. Even simple things are upside down and backwards here. Take getting my socks washed. Every Wednesday we put out our dirty laundry in big white bags marked with our name: FLANAGAN. Every Monday our clothes come back starched, pressed, folded, and smelling of soap and flour. They look like my mom washed them for me.

Except she didn’t.

My laundry man is Alcatraz #85: Al Capone. He has help, of course. Machine Gun Kelly works right alongside him in the laundry along with thirty other no-name hit men, con men, mad dog murderers, and a handful of bank robbers too.

They do a good job washing the clothes for us and most everyone else on the island. But sometimes they do a little extra.

The cons don’t care for Officer Trixle, so his laundry doesn’t return the same way as everyone else’s. His shirts are missing buttons, underwear is stiff with starch or dyed pansy pink, pants are missing a cuff or the fly is sewn shut so the guy can’t even take a leak unless he pulls his pants down like a little girl.

I can’t say the cons are wrong about Officer Trixle. Darby Trixle is the kind of guy who only his wife likes—and not that much either. Last Saturday my best friend Jimmy Mattaman and I were looking for a barrel for Jimmy’s fly menagerie, and Janet Trixle, Darby’s seven-year-old daughter, just happened to see we were walking by the Black Mariah, the Alcatraz paddy wagon. That was all we were doing—walking by it. But when Darby saw the Mariah had a flat tire, who do you think got the blame?

Yours truly.

It couldn’t have been Darby drove over a nail. Oh no. It had to have been us. We had to go with him to San Francisco and carry a new tire down Van Ness Avenue, to the ferry and up the switchback, to where the Mariah was parked up top. Darby wouldn’t even let us roll it on the road. Didn’t want it to get dirty. It’s a tire! Where does he think it usually goes?

My father wouldn’t help us with Darby either. “I know you had nothing to do with that flat tire, but it won’t hurt you to give Darby a hand, Moose,” is what he said.

When I first moved here, I thought all the bad guys were on one side of the bars and all the good guys were on the other. But lately, I’ve begun to wonder if there isn’t at least one officer on the free side who ought to be locked up and maybe a convict who isn’t half as bad as he’s cracked up to be. I’m thinking about Al Capone—the most notorious gangster in America, the worst guy we have up top. How could it be that he did me a good turn?

It doesn’t make sense, does it? But Al Capone got my sister, Natalie, into a school called the Esther P. Marinoff where she’d been turned down twice already. It’s a boarding school for kids who have their wires crossed up. It’s a school and not a school . . . a place to make her normal.

I don’t know for certain it was Capone who helped us. I mean the guy is locked up in a five-by-nine-foot cell. He’s not allowed to make a phone call or write a letter that isn’t censored word for word. It doesn’t seem possible he could have done anything to help us, even if he wanted to.

But out of desperation, I sent a letter asking Capone for help and Natalie got accepted. Then I got a note in the pocket of my newly laundered shirt: Done, it said.

I haven’t told anyone about this. It’s something I try not to think about, but today, the day Nat’s finally leaving for school, I can’t keep my mind from going over the details again and again.

The thing that stumps me is why. I never even met Al Capone . . . why would he help me?

I watch Nat as she sits on the living room floor going through our books one by one. She looks almost like a regular sixteen-year-old this morning, if her mouth wasn’t twitching right and right and right again and her shoulders were just down where they’re supposed to be. She opens a book, fans her face with the pages, then sets the book back on the shelf, just exactly as it was. She has been through one entire shelf this way. Now she’s working on the second.

Normally, my mom wouldn’t let her do this, but today she doesn’t want to take the chance of upsetting her.

“You ready to go, Natalie?” my mother asks.

Nat moves faster. She fans the pages so quickly each book sounds like one quick ffffrrrt. All I hear is ffffrrrt ffffrrrt ffffrrrt as I look out our front window down to the dock. Sure enough there’s Officer Trixle. He’s supposed to be off today, but Trixle can’t keep his nose out of our business. He’s almost as much trouble as Piper, the warden’s daughter—only not half as pretty. When you look like Piper does, people forgive a whole lot of things, but never mind about that. What I think about Piper is kind of embarrassing, to tell you the truth.

My father comes out of the bathroom. The toilet is running again. The plumbing in 64 building is held together with bubble gum and last year’s oatmeal stuck hard and solid. But luckily for us, Seven Fingers, our very own felon plumber, fixes it for free. Not exactly for free actually. We pay him a chocolate bar every time, but no one is supposed to know that.

“Time to go, Natalie,” my mom says.

Natalie is wearing a new yellow dress today. My mother cut the pattern, but the convicts in the tailor shop sewed it. The cons did a pretty good job. Only the belt is bugging Nat. She pulls at it, weaving it in and out of the loops. In and out. In and out. Nat’s mouth puckers to one side. “Moose school. Natalie home,” she says.

“Not today,” my mother says brightly. “Today is your big day. Today you’re going to school.”

Not today,” Nat tells her. “Not today. Not today.”

I can’t help smiling at this. Natalie likes to repeat what you say and here she’s repeating my mom’s exact words with a change of inflection that makes them say what Natalie wants them to say and not at all what my mother meant. I love when Natalie outsmarts Mom this way. Sometimes Nat is smarter than we are. Other times, she doesn’t understand the first thing about anything. That’s the trouble with Natalie—you never know which way she’ll go.

The first time Nat went to the Esther P. Marinoff School she pitched a fit the size of Oklahoma and they kicked her out, but I don’t think that will happen this time. She’s getting better in her own weird way. I used to say Nat’s like a human adding machine without the human part, but now she’s touching down human more days than not. And each time she does it feels as if the sun has come out after sixty straight days of rain.

“Tell her, Moose. Tell her how wonderful it’s going to be,” my mother says.

“Tell her, Moose. Tell her how wonderful it’s going to be,” Nat repeats, picking up her button box and holding it tight against her chest.

“You get to take your buttons, Nat. Mom said,” I say.

I almost think I see her smile then—as much of a smile as you ever get from Natalie anyway. She peeks inside her button box, checking to make sure all of her precious buttons are exactly where they’re supposed to be.

When we head down to the dock, my mom’s step is light on the stairs. She’s so sure that the Esther P. Marinoff will be the thing that fixes Natalie. My dad’s feet are moving to the beat of an Irish jig. Natalie is taking each step carefully and methodically as if she wants each foot to make a lasting impression on the stairs.

When we get down to the water’s edge I see Trixle walking across the dock, bullhorn in hand.

Two hundred yards back please! All boats must stay two hundred yards off the shore!” Officer Trixle booms through his bullhorn to a tour boat that has come too close to the island.

“Warned him before, that one. Mac’ll put a bead on him. Fix ’em good,” Trixle tells my father.

Natalie hates loud noises. Once they shot a warning blast into the water when we were in our apartment and she curled up in a ball in the middle of the living room and stayed that way for the better part of the afternoon. Another time she didn’t seem to hear a gun go off ten feet away. It’s impossible to predict what Natalie will do.

“Darby, hey Darby . . .” my father wheedles. “Please—not today, okay, buddy?”


Excerpted from "Al Capone Shines My Shoes"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Gennifer Choldenko.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Heart-stopping+heartrending+heartwarming." -San Francisco Chronicle

"Choldenko seamlessly blends laugh-out-loud humor with high drama in this fast-paced book." -Sacramento Bee

"A tender, engaging book that captures both the imagination and the heart." -San Jose Mercury News

Customer Reviews

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Al Capone Shines My Shoes 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you thought Al Capone does my shirts was good then you then you will abosolutly love Al Capone shines my shoes. I am only in the first few chapters of the book but I can tell you that the author made me keep me turning the pages even if it is 10:30 at night. Please buy this amazingly fantastic book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you liked al capone does my shirts you will definetly like this.i am in 5th grade and i loved this book.It kept me turning the pages.Great book.
Noel Jimenez More than 1 year ago
One word...................................AWESOME
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever! Very exciting at the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book and so does my class.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mom introduced me to Al Capone does my shirts first and told me about this one. When i finished reading al capone does my shirts i immediately bought it. I just finished it last night and i wish there were more for me to read! ; )
Stephanie67 More than 1 year ago
My 12 year old daughter and I love this sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts. It takes from history and adds the fictional element to make the story engaging. The children in this book are very funny and bright. Please make sure to read the authors notes at the end of the book where she explains the 'facts' vs. the 'fiction'. A great read that inspired us to learn more about Alcatraz.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had to read two books for 6th grade and then do a book report on them. Al capone shines my shoes was a Really good choice.
Mother-Daughter-Book-Club More than 1 year ago
It's 1935 on Alcatraz Island. Al Capone is The Rock's most famous prisoner among a number of notorious criminals. He's also a constant fascination for the families of the guards, who live in houses on the island next door to the cellblock. Moose Flanagan is the son of one of those guards. He's adjusting to life without his autistic sister Natalie, who has just been accepted into the Esther P. Marinoff School, a place her parents believe will help her learn how to function better in society. Moose is sure Al Capone pulled strings to get Natalie in after Moose wrote a letter asking for his help. When Moose gets a note in his laundry, he knows Capone is asking for a favor back. But how can he fulfill the request without getting his dad fired and the whole family exiled off the island? Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko is a charming follow-up to her Newbery Honor winner, Al Capone Does My Shirts. You'll fall right back into Moose's story and life on Alcatraz, with its strict regulations for prisoners, guards and civilians alike. This time Moose is trying to navigate his conflicted feelings for Piper, the warden's daughter, and keep all his friends happy. He also has to determine where to draw the line with the cons who perform maintenance jobs in the homes: can he trust these men who for the most part seem like regular people, or should he keep their past crimes in mind when he interacts with them? I highly recommend this book for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 12.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read it! Amazing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh my gosh can u people please write an actual review? Not something saying GREAT!!!!! Say how it was great. Come on. Dont be stupid. WRITE A REVIEW!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 10 year old loved this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well writen
kimberly schultea More than 1 year ago
I had to read Al Capone does my shirts for one of my Summer reading books and I fell in love with it. It was sooo good. So, when I returned back to school ( from the Summer) I turned in my report for Al Capone and my teacher announced, " Class, we might read Al Capone shines my shoes since ya'll enjoyed Al Capone does my shirts soooo much". I was sooo exited. Only like, two people didn't enjoy Al Capone but, maybe they just weren't into it, unlike me. I would reccomed this book to anyone of any age.
Zarahi Dairy More than 1 year ago
Moose and his friends will show you a window to what was like to live in Alcatraz displaying the love of baseball, the strength in the bonds of friendship and family, and the power of forgiveness. I would recommend this book to Middle Schoolers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was interesting and also exciting.
ECHSLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good sequel. Not quite as good as the first, but how many sequels are? When Al Capone requests a favor in return, the adventures begin. Fun!
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts continues the adventures of 12-year-old Matthew ¿Moose¿ Flanagan and his friends, fellow children of Alcatraz Island guards. After Al Capone did a favor for Moose at the end of the first book, Moose gets a note in Capone¿s hand that says ¿your turn.¿ After fretting for some time about the implications of this note, Moose eventually finds out Capone¿s request and thinks it¿s pretty innocuous. Little does he know all manner of chaos will soon break loose and Moose and his friends will have the adventure of a lifetime! As with the first book, Choldenko writes in simple, easily accessible language but by no means dumbs down her work. In many respects, this is high literature for young readers, although they probably won¿t notice that between the fast-paced plot and Moose¿s humorous and engaging narration. This is a definite winner ¿ for children and even adults!
phh333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts, but not quite as good. Still an enjoyable read about the kids who live on Alcatraz and what they do when they think Al Capone need a favor.
lisagibson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book because it was re-visiting old friends. It was nice to see how far they had come, the character development was deeper and there was quite a bit of excitement to the story. Moose is a great main character who is struggling with being on the brink of adolescence but still truly being a kid.
lindamamak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you liked Al Capone does my shirts, you will love this sequel as the kids of prison guards learn about life on Alcatraz Island.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The year is 1935 and 12-year old Moose Flanagan and his sister, Natalie, are still living with their parents on Alcatraz Island where Moose's dad is a prison guard. The famous mobster, Al Capone is still in residence as well. In Al Capone Does My Shirts, Al Capone helped Moose by engineering Natalie's acceptance into a special-needs school in San Francisco. The action in Al Capone Shines My Shoes begins when Moose receives a note in his prison-laundered clothing, "your turn."Moose narrates the events that follow this missive from the powerful Al Capone, and there is plenty of action and suspense to satisfy readers. However, this book has far more to offer. As historical fiction, its location and period is certainly unique to the genre. What child wouldn't be interested in life on Alcatraz Island when Al Capone resided there? It's also a glimpse into a bygone era where 12-year-old kids can chaperone younger children on day-long trips in San Francisco and spend most of their time unsupervised, no modern "helicopter parents" appear in this book. For better or worse, life was just different back then. But what truly makes this a great book, is the relationship and depth of the younger characters. Rarely is there a children's book that offers insight into so many characters. By the end of Al Capone Shines My Shoes, the reader will identify with all of the island's young inhabitants - Jimmy, Moose's best friend who struggles to keep up with Moose's athletic prowess and easy likability; Jimmy's little sister, Theresa, who is much smarter than her seven years belie; the beautiful and spoiled Piper, the warden's daughter who acts out to cover her own grief; Janet Trixle, the tagalong daughter of one of the island's officers, Annie, Moose's good-natured and athletic girl friend, the story's narrator, Moose, who is learning much about love and life, and of course, Natalie, his autistic sister. Natalie's role in this story is not the role of the disabled sister, however. She is just another of the children. Yes, her disability causes complications and tension, but every child causes complications and tension, and Natalie is just another child. In the eyes of the Flanagans, and indeed, all of the local children, Natalie is simply Natalie - no better, no worse than anyone else. And although the Esther P. Marinoff School may try to "cure" Natalie, the Flanagan's are the only ones with the proper prescription - love. Al Capone, guard towers, prison escapes, baseball, mysterious notes, lies, cover-ups, adventure, love, honesty, friendship, responsibility - Gennifer Choldenko puts them all together brilliantly.
skstiles612 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts. Moose still lives on Alcatraz island where his father is a guard. Thanks to Al Capone his autistic sister has found a place into the Esther P. Marinoff School. Moose is grateful until he receives a note in his shirt that says ¿your turn¿. Another note tells him that Mae Capone is coming for a visit and she loves yellow roses. Now he has to find a way to give her yellow roses without getting his father fired. This was a great book. It was filled with more adventure than the first one. Moose gets to see both sides of Al Capone, the decent and the conniving side. The story is full of prejudices, overcoming prejudices, learning to be a friend to someone with out setting boundaries and learning to forgive. Moose¿s sister Natalie plays a larger role in this book as well. I know they didn¿t have a word for Natalie¿s condition back then but the author draws upon her own experiences of having an autistic sister. I have worked with many autistic children in school and was able to make that subtle connection. It personalized the book in so many ways. I saw the kids the same way I see my students at school with some of the same problems such as, boyfriend, girlfriend problems, parent problems, friend problems and in some cases reacting inappropriately or making bad choices because of people who abuse authority. This will go on my shelves next to the first book.