Al Capone Does My Shirts
by Gennifer Choldenko
This book is about a kid named Moose Flanagan and what happens to him when his family moves to Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay. Moose knows that his family is moving to Alcatraz so that his sister, Natalie, can be closer to the Esther P. Marinoff School, which has an excellent reputation for kids like Natalie. But it’s hard to remember all that when his dad is hardly ever home anymore (he works two jobs for the prison) and Moose has to take on extra responsibilities with the care of his older sister since they no longer have family close by. It’s weird living so close to serious criminals like Scarface Al and Machine Gun Kelly and acting like this is all perfectly normal. Then Moose catches the attention of the warden (and not in a good way), in spite of trying to do the right thing. In the end, Moose discovers that it’s best to just come clean and that there’s nothing wrong with having Natalie for a sister.
I loved this book from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Moose is such a great guy, you just want to meet him in person and throw the ball around with him a little. The way he and the other kids on Alcatraz balance life on the island and school on the mainland, you’d think it was the most normal thing in the world. But I’ve been to Alcatraz Island, and it’s creepy! I can’t blame Moose for being a little freaked out a first. But my favorite thing about the whole book is how funny it is! You wouldn’t think a book about a prison and a family with so many problems would be funny, but it is. And in the end, it’s surprising where hope finally comes from. After reading this book, my only regret is that I wish Al Capone had done MY shirts.
Reviewed by Ms. Meghan Beshara