Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Talk Tuesday: Al Capone Does My Shirts

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I usually like to review new titles for Book Talk Tuesday, but last weekend I took a mini-vacation to San Francisco, and while there, I toured Alcatraz island, a prison fortress which once housed a number of notorious criminals, and which is now a national park. It's been at least four years since I read Al Capone Does My Shirts, but as I toured the cell block and peered into the tiny cells, the details of this book came flooding back to me. So, instead of featuring a newly released book today, I'm featuring one of my all-time favorites!
Moose Flanagan didn't ask to leave his hometown and winning baseball team. He didn't ask his dad to take a job as a guard at the most famous prison in the country. He didn't ask for a sister like Natalie, who, even though she's older than Moose, can throw a tantrum worse than a two-year-old. And he didn't ask to live on the same tiny island as the notorious mob boss, Al Capone. But that's excatly what has happened to Moose when we meet him at the beginning of Al Capone Does My Shirts.

Moose's family has just moved to Alcatraz island, where prison guards and their families live side-by-side with the country's most dangerous convicts. But living a stone's throw from a prison house is only the beginning of Moose's problems. Moose's sister, Natalie, has a condition that makes her different from other kids her age, and the family has moved to Alcatraz so that Natalie can have a chance to attend a special school in nearby San Francisco. As a result, Moose's parents have to work constantly to provide money for Natalie's tuition, and Moose is often left in charge of Natalie while his parents are away. Add that to having to make new friends and start over at a new school, and Moose feels like he's a prisoner himself!

Things get interesting, though, when Moose meets Piper, the warden's daughter, and gets sucked into some of her deceitful schemes. As it turns out, life on "the rock" is much more exciting than Moose thought it would be.

Al Capone Does My Shirts is a great story about what it's like to support and be a part of a family, and about what it means to be a true friend, but it's also about a time in history when gangsters ruled the crime world and when Alcatraz was a name that struck fear in the hearts of prisoners and civilians alike. Al Capone is exciting, intriguing, funny, and touching. It's a great read if you want to know more about Alcatraz, or if you're looking for a funny, unpredictable story!

If you want to know more about Moose, his story, Al Capone, Alcatraz, or author Gennifer Choldenko, be sure to check out this site!

Here's me, reading outside of an Alcatraz cell!


  1. Very nice! I was about to mention that I visited Alcatraz too while I was in San Francisco - truly a creepy experience, and I saw this book as well. I recall borrowing it from the library here in Singapore - but was not able to read through it until the time that I have to return it again (such is our lives, I suppose - what with so many books and so little time) - now that I've read your review, I am now inspired to borrow the book yet again from the library (and hopefully this time, find the time to really read it!)

  2. Myra,
    "Creepy" is a great way to describe the Alcatraz tour. Everything was cold and wet and dreary! The funny thing is, I had read the book long before I actually visited the island, so the whole time I was there, taking the tour, I kept hearing Moose's voice in my head! And I kept thinking to myself, "I can't believe that families lived here!"
    Thanks for your comment! Hope you get a chance to read the book!