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The Children of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the…

The Children of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the Rock

by Claire Rudolf Murphy

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With "Children of Alcatraz:Growing up on the Rock" author Claire Murphy had a great concept (focusing on the children who lived on Alcatraz over the years), yet did not really create a book which would appeal too much to children. The book actually seemed more like a family album, with black and white photographs and a few anecdotes about prison guards' children etc. The section of this book which students may find the most interesting is not when it was a U.S. penitentiary (1934-1963),but rather the section on the 1969-1971 "Indians of all Tribes" occupation. In this part of the book, Murphy does a good job describing the motivation behind the takeover of Alcatraz and what children did to occupy their time. There are references in the back of the book including a timeline and web sites. ( )
  odonnell | Aug 19, 2010 |
I purchased this book for my library after I received a request for books about Alcatraz. The book has plenty of information, giving an overview of children who have lived on Alcatraz since the 1800s, but it's not one that kids are likely to pick up for recreational reading. It's pretty dry and only about a third of the book deals with the period during which Alcatraz was a federal prison - which is what most kids are curious about. This book will be useful for kids doing reports, but I'll be looking to add something else with more kid appeal. ( )
  abbylibrarian | Dec 30, 2009 |
Missed the mark.

A book for children about a famous prison. I was intially intrigued. I remember being fascinated about escape from Alcatraz stories as a child, and a visit to Alcatraz when I was 10 year old from the midwest was definately the highlight of a 10 day vacation in California. But this book missed the mark.

The book gives a view into the lives of families and children of the prison employees that lived on the island, who we seldom think of when we imagine the famous prison and its more dangerous residents.

This book looks potentially interesting, but upon further reading, I can barely recommend it. Although it may have been historically accurate, most children (and many adults too) that are interested in prison history are more interested in the legends and the stories, which provide opportunities to explore themes of freedom and justice. The book provided little opportunity to explore that. but focused on the children who lived on the island. It just didn't tell my 10 year old self the juicy details that I wanted so I can't imagine any 10 year olds getting excited about it. ( )
  blancaflor | Jan 13, 2008 |
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Alcatraz Island is one of the most infamous places in American history. The maximum-security prison on the "Rock," once home to criminals like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly, has long since captured our country's imagination. But what few people realize is that Alcatraz was not only home to criminals--it was home to many children, too! Over the years, the island has been home to the children of Native Americans, lighthouse keepers, military soldiers, and prison guards. Imagine playing hide-and-seek in the prison morgue, having a convict as your babysitter, or having Al Capone as your neighbor. This photo-essay profiles generations of children who had the unique opportunity of growing up on this isolated island in San Francisco's shadow. With personal anecdotes, interviews with surviving Alcatraz Kids, historical documents, and archival and family photographs, this book reveals a one-of-a-kind childhood.--From publisher description.… (more)

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