Saturday, December 24, 2005

Al Capone Does My Shirts

So, I have to admit...this is one of those books that I sort of, pretended to have read for about a year now. Whenever the kids at school would ask me about it, I'd say, "yeah...this one is great!" and leave it at that. I had heard Jen's booktalks about it a hundred times, but for some reason, I just didn't feel like reading it. I just picked it off the shelf at the public library last week.

Moose Flanagan is not living a typical life. It's the 1930s and he is living on Alcatraz Island where his dad does double duty as an electrician and a prison guard. Moose is not the only kid there. His sister Natalie, Piper (the warden's daughter), Annie, Theresa, Jimmy and baby Rocky are on the Island too. Everyday Moose takes the ferry into the city to go to school.

The warden has told all of the kids on the island that they are not supposed to talk about the cons. Especially not about notorious gangster Capone. Piper has other ideas... she talks about Alcatraz all the time. She is full of money making schemes that she needs Moose's help for, and they all involve breaking the warden't rules.

Getting in trouble is the LAST thing that Moose needs. He already is stuck taking care of his sister everyday. Natalie isn't a typical sister...she has special needs. Moose knows that the warden isn't too happy having her on the Island at all and he does his best to keep Natalie out of the warden's way. But his family is full of secrets...some of them involving his sister. Can Moose find a way to help his family, or will he forever follow the rules?

This is a fast read with some fascinating facts about prison life in Alcatraz in the 30s. Choldenko has also provided facts about autism in a unnamed and detailed way. While this is not the flashiest book out there, it is a solid read that will most likely open up the mind's of readers to questions of justice on many different levels.

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