Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Would You Pay to Have Al Capone Clean Your Shirts?


It is 1935 when 12 year old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica, CA to Alcatraz, where his father is going to work as an electrician. Moose’s parents are also hoping that his older sister, Natalie, will be able to attend a local school in San Francisco for students with special needs. Moose isn’t thrilled about moving to the giant rock and being surrounded by prisoners. He's hoping to get to play as much baseball as possible, but when he ends up needing to spend his time watching his sister because she gets kicked out of school, his dreams are cut short. Natalie’s actions are often misunderstood by those around them and sometimes the things she does gets Moose in trouble. Of course, he manages to find trouble on his own when he reluctantly pairs up with Piper, the warden’s daughter, in a scheme to make money by saying that kids can get their clothes cleaned by notorious gangster, Al Capone. Can the laundry plan work or will someone find out? Will Natalie get into a school that will give her the help she needs? What will happen when Al Capone comes into Moose’s life? Is life on “The Rock” a good place to grow up? A trip to Alcatraz will definitely give you a taste of history that few others got to experience.


Al Capone Does My Shirts is the first in a series of books set on Alcatraz Island staring Moose and his friends. I would recommend this book to kids in fourth grade and up who enjoy learning about history, friendship, families, and mobsters. I visited Alcatraz a few years ago when I was in San Francisco. After touring the prison and walking around the island I was very curious about the prisoners and the regular families who lived there. I could easily picture this book and I especially liked the historical aspects to it. I learned about things I didn’t know about before. Moose is easy to relate to, and you can’t help but like him. He struggles with his family and the fact that he always has to take care of his older sister, Natalie, who today would probably be diagnosed with autism. The fact that Al Capone was a real mobster made me feel like anything could happen, and I was curious to see how everything would turn out. I liked watching the characters grow, and it was interesting to see the way certain situations turned out. This book intertwined history with family troubles in a way that made the story seem very believable. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Has anyone else read Al Capone Does My Shirts? Or have you read another book by Gennifer Choldenko? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Reading! ~L


Stop by Friday to read our interview with Gennifer Choldenko!  

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55 comments:

  1. It sounds fascinating - and fun. Which is the very best way to learn. Thank you for showcasing it.

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    1. Elepnant's Child- It is a fun and interesting read. You are right- it is the best way to learn. :) ~L

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  2. I have never read the book... I also never knew that people lived on the rock other than the prisoners... interesting... I am not sure that is a great place for children... the book sounds intriguing xox

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    1. Launna- I was surprised to learn that other people lived on the island too.I guess it makes sense because of the people who worked at the prison. I read that about 300 civilians lived on the island at any one time. :) ~L

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  3. I haven't read this but enjoy anything with history in it. Great review.

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    1. Beverly- It is a unique book and I think you will enjoy it. :) ~L

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  4. I haven't read this one, but it sounds interesting and fun. Never really thought about the people who lived on the rock - but weren't imprisoned there.

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    1. Janet- It is an interesting read and I liked learning about a kid growing up on an island surrounded by prisoners. Definitely different! :) ~L

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  5. I always enjoy books based on history. This sounds like it's about a little known part of the Alcatraz history. Interesting.

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    1. Lauren- It is fun to read about history and learning about a little known part of history is very exciting. :) ~L

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  6. I haven't read this, but I've heard such good things about it.

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    1. Kelly- It is a great way to learn about history! :) ~L

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  7. This is a really cute book. I enjoyed it. Gennifer came to speak at our SCBWI Holiday mixer a couple years ago. She is terrific.

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    1. Rosi- How awesome that you got to listen to Gennifer speak at your SCBWI Holiday Mixer. So cool! Glad to hear you enjoyed Al Capone Does My Shirts. :) ~L

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  8. When I was a Teachers Assistant for a 6th grade class, they were reading this book. It was great. A pity I had to leave (for a number of reasons). I left when Moose had to watch Natalie. Always wondered how it turned out.

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    1. Al- How interesting that you started this book with a group of 6th graders. I think you will enjoy reading this book and finding out how it all ended. :) ~L

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  9. Ooh! This sounds like something I'd enjoy!

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    1. Kate- It is a great read! :) ~L

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  10. I knew you would feature this book. I have seen this series on another blog and I think it sounds terrific and intersting for young boys especially.

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    1. Heidi- Great guess! It is a really interesting book and it will help get kids interested in history. A wonderful book to read and then research Alcatraz. :) ~L

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  11. I loved this book. There was so much here to make you think and smile and enjoy.

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  12. What an interesting idea for a series of books.

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  13. What a neat idea to set it on the rock. This is a great way to teach kids about history and make it fun. Sounds like a fun but thoughtful book. I wonder if he will introduce the Birdman from Alcatraz?

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    1. Birgit- I thought it was a unique setting and an excellent way to learn about history. I learned about the Birdman when I visited Alcatraz, but I don't know if he shows up in any of the books. :) ~L

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  14. I like the book title and I think the plot is interesting.

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    1. Lux- I think the title definitely catches the reader's attention! :) ~L

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  15. That sounds like a really cool book! Thanks for the review! I never really thought that there were families living on Alcatraz, but it makes sense. It's not like they could leave the island so easily to return to the mainland for work each day.

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    1. Cherie- I know! That is what is so cool about this book- it spotlights a set of people we really don't think about. I have heard the warden's daughter has written a book about growing up on Alcatraz. I would imagine it is an interesting read. :) ~L

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  16. I haven't read the book and already I think it's great. Congratulations, Gennifer.

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  17. Thanks for the review! Sounds fascinating.

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    1. Editors at Work- You are welcome! It is! :) ~L

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  18. We've never read anything by this author before; but we LOVE the sound of this book, and Moose sounds like a very lovable main character. We'll be adding this one to the TBR for sure!

    ~Mckenzie & Michele @ A Belle's Tales

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    1. Mckenzie and Michele- It is a unique read and you will get to know some interesting characters. :) ~L

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  19. I have heard such good things about this book! I seriously need to pick it up. Thanks for the awesome review :)

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    1. Meradeth- It is great! If you get to read it- enjoy! :) ~L

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  20. It sounds like a very interesting theme and its neat that it is part of a series! I could see why it could appeal to that age group of 4th grade and above.

    betty

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    1. Betty- I like that it is part of a series so we can really get to know the characters. Plus, the setting is so unique. :) ~L

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  21. Sounds so interesting. Have a lovely end of the week.

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    1. Vanessa- It is! Hope you have a wonderful weekend. :) ~L

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  22. That sounds like a very creative premise for a series. Glad you enjoyed the first book.

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  23. That sounds like a very creative premise for a series. Glad you enjoyed the first book.

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  24. I've heard of this one. Sounds interesting. I've been to Alcatraz - creepy!

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    1. The Armchair Squid- I agree that Alactraz is creepy. Can't imagine living there! :) ~L

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  25. I've read all three in this series. Moose is a highly likeable MC, especially in the way he looks after Natalie. I also like his new friendships (though I don't like Piper much).

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    1. Claudine- I love the way Moose is with his sister too. So kind! I wasn't a big fan of Piper in this book. I am glad to hear you read all three of the books in this series. I look forward to reading the rest of them! :) ~L

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  26. I didn't know that was a thing - living on The Rock/Alcatraz for anyone but prisoners. That's kind of unbelievable and would be interesting to explore through Moose's eyes.

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    1. Adriana- I was surprised to learn that civilians lived on Alcatraz Island too. It is fascinating to learn about it from Moose's perspective. :) ~L

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