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Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer…

Al Capone Does My Shirts (original 2004; edition 2006)

by Gennifer Choldenko

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3,6392861,451 (3.99)110
Title:Al Capone Does My Shirts
Authors:Gennifer Choldenko
Info:Perfection Learning (2006), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work details

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (2004)

  1. 00
    The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both books deal with the relationship between an autistic adolescent and a sibling.
  2. 00
    Holes by Louis Sachar (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: With offbeat characters and distinctive settings, these well-paced, affecting and funny novels are about compassionate boys: Moose, caring for his autistic sister on Alcatraz Island (Al Capone); Stanley, who escapes from a juvenile detention camp to help another inmate (Holes).… (more)
  3. 00
    Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  4. 00
    How to Talk to an Autistic Kid by Daniel Stefanski (cammykitty)
    cammykitty: Very short book that explains what it's like to have autism, and what you can do to help if you know someone with autism.
  5. 00
    Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine (kaledrina)

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» See also 110 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 285 (next | show all)
Set in 1935, Moose and his family move to Alcatraz Island when his father gets a job at the prison there. Moose ends up becoming his autistic sister Natalie's full-time caretaker due to his parents' work schedules and Natalie not fitting in at a school for people with mental illnesses. Moose balances trying to take care of Natalie while also pursuing mischievous schemes with his friend Piper. I thought the book gave a good look into life in the 1930s. For some children, the aspect of having a sibling or family member with mental illness along or just even having extremely busy parents can feel very relatable. The story is written with some humor so it isn't always serious, but can get tense at certain points as well. Overall, "Al Capone Does My Shirts" is a very well written book and I could see why it received a Newberry honor in 2007. I think I would use this book in my classroom when learning about the 1930s in America. This book probably fits the bookshelf of 4th-6th grade classrooms.
  BrettMartin | Apr 22, 2017 |
I liked Choldenko's first novel in the series, and would definitely read it again. The first aspect I enjoyed was the complex, and careful characterization of Natalie, Moose's older sister who has autism (though, at that time, it was not acknowledged as such). You see her as a human being, with complex behaviors such as memorizing the indexes or arranging her button collection. However, you also see the complex relationship Moose retain with Natalie: “The last thing I want is to meet new kids when Natalie’s around. New people don’t understand about her. They just don’t.”. You see his difficultly in ingratiating her into his life--he may understand her, but he doesn't believe others will. It is an honest characterization of a sibling who has a brother or sister with a disability--it does not seek to be cruel, but just honest.

The second aspect I highly enjoyed was the sense of humor the novel retained. The concept of selling the kids the idea of getting their laundry done by inmates was hilarious, and a quite ingenious way to reasonably bring in the historical aspects of Alcatraz as an institution. It also led to one of the funnier aspects of the novel (which also tied in with the characterization of Natalie): Moose writes to Al Capone to help get Natalie into the school. You never know if Al Capone actually receives the letter, or if he is the one to credit, but it is an amusing image, thinking that Capone has enough pull to even do something like that from prison.

I think, because it is a middle grade/chapter book, there are few big picture messages in this book. However, the main message is carried most clearly through the characterization of Natalie, and her relationship with her brother, Moose. By creating a relationship where Moose is not ashamed of Natalie, but seeks to protect her, and help her grow, I think it becomes clear to the reader that the message is that people are far more complex than the things that set them apart, and it is our job as decent human beings to find the middle ground. Moose does not seek to change Natalie, but accepts her for who she is, and works to create a world where she can find her place--whether it is through his own actions towards her, or his implicit actions of helping her get into the school. ( )
  StephKiefer | Apr 18, 2017 |
There are several reasons why I like this book. I like the way the author uses descriptive language throughout the text. It helps the reader visualize not only what’s going on, but what it’s like from the main character, Moose’s, point of view. “I trip going up the steps and have to brush myself off and tuck in my shirt again. I comb my hair with my hand, take a deep breath and ring the bell.” Here the author uses descriptive imagery to help describe Moose’s nervousness as he’s about to talk to the warden. The author also writes in a clear, concise way that is well paced and flows naturally. Each chapter break is used to separate the main events, but also connects to the next in a chronological order. Chapter eleven ends as Moose and his family prepare Natalie’s suitcase, as they are in high hopes that she will go to her new school soon. The author ends chapter eleven with these words: “I grab the old brown suitcase that says Natalie Flanagan on all six sides and we hustle Natalie out the door.” The author starts chapter twelve by describing what the house is like the next morning with Natalie there. A typical morning, except not a typical day. The author’s language helps to foreshadow the events about to take place when she writes: “The next morning seems just like normal..”. When the author’s writes “seems” it gets the reader prepared for what’s going to happen next. Overall, the message of this story is to never give up hope and to never stop trying. ( )
  ndrehm1 | Apr 18, 2017 |
This book was an enjoyable one to read for several reasons. First, its comical plot kept it enjoyable to read and applicable to children. The main idea of the book was ultimately that the main character, a twelve year old boy named Moose, wanted to do the right thing for his sister and his family. A reason I enjoyed it was because of how relatable it can be to people and children. For example, when explaining how he was annoyed with the fact that his sister had to follow him around everywhere, I related immediately. Even though I was not under the same circumstance of my sibling being special education, my brother still followed me around everywhere and I remember thinking other kids would think I/that was weird. Another reason I enjoyed reading this book was because the main character was so innocent and always wanted to do the right thing. Even though he got into a business he knew was wrong, he ultimately wanted to do what was best for his sister, and even passed a note to the most famous criminal to help his family out. This book is funny and appropriate for children to read with relatable characters and situations children would be happy to read about. ( )
  ChristySchultz | Apr 17, 2017 |
I liked the book, "Al Capone Does My Shirts" for two reasons because of the message and the point of view. The message of the book is about acceptance, and not treating people differently because they have disabilities. Moose Flanagan, the main character, and his family struggles with his sister, Natalie, and the fact that she has autism. They always tell people that Natalie is 10 years old because people will understand her more and the way she is behaving. However, Natalie is actually 16 years old. People should not be embarrassed of others, and accept who they are, despite what others say and think. According to the text, Piper, one of Moose's friends, states about Natalie, "So, not retarded. Stupid, then?" Piper asks.'"Look, could we drop this already?" "I'm just asking a simple question," Piper says. "Not in front of Natalie," I whisper."' This quotation demonstrates how people are judging Natalie because of her disability, and it is important to accept people for who they are because it can cause hurt to a person. Furthermore, the point of view of Moose adds to the message of the chapter book. Moose is seen as the responsible one in the family, who his parents depend on to take care of his sister, Natalie. Moose struggles with his sister, Natalie, and wants to protect her from people bullying her. Moose's mother states, '"Moose." My mother reaches for my chin again and tips my face toward her. "I need you. Your dad needs you and Natalie needs you most of all. Let's give this a try, shall we? Let's just see how it goes."' Moose struggles with himself internally, and the responsibility he has to make sure his sister is protected and able to get into the school she was originally kicked out of for being too much of a challenge. Moose even goes to the extent of writing a letter to Al Capone on Alcatraz to make sure his sister can get back into the school. ( )
  KristenZdon | Apr 11, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 285 (next | show all)
Author Choldenko has written a funny and clever middle grade novel about a boy named Matthew (Moose) Flanagan who is living on Alcatraz Island with his family. The family has moved to the Island because Moose's father has found work as an electrician, and because his sister Natalie, who is autistic, can go to a good school nearby. Moose is not happy about living on the island, especially after meeting the Warden's daughter Piper who is bossy and a bit of a troublemaker. Moose's father has warned him to stay out of trouble because he needs this job and Natalie needs to go to the special school. Moose's life becomes miserable when Piper involves him and a few other island kids in a moneymaking scheme to have their schoolmates' clothes laundered by the convicts on Alcatraz Island. Piper tempts her school chums by claiming that Al Capone, the famous gangster, may even wash their shirts. The scheme falls apart when the Warden finds out what his daughter and friends are up to. Then, to make matters worse, the school that Natalie attends doesn't want her and she has to come home. Moose winds up watching her and has to forego his Monday after-school baseball game. This is an amusing book about interesting characters placed in a different and unlikely setting and trying to make the best of their situation. 2004, G. P. Putnam's Sons, Ages 10 up.

added by sriches | editChildren's Literature, Della Yannuzzi (Jul 24, 2009)
In 1935, notorious gangster Al Capone is one of three hundred convicts housed in the maximum-security penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. Twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan also lives on the island. His father has taken a position as an electrician and guard at the prison in hopes that Moose's sister, Natalie, will be accepted at a special school in nearby San Francisco. Not only has Moose been forced to leave friends behind and move with his family to a fortress island, but he also cannot play baseball or make new friends now because he is stuck taking care of his sister whenever he is not in school. Natalie is afflicted with the condition now known as autism, and even at age sixteen, she cannot be left unsupervised. Everyone in the family has been under a strain because of Natalie's special needs. Meanwhile Piper, the warden's pretty, spoiled daughter, makes life complicated for Moose. The island's residents have their laundry done by the convicts, and thrill-seeking Piper drags Moose into her wild stunt of marketing Al Capone's laundry services to their middle school classmates in San Francisco. But when his family desperately needs a break in their efforts to get help for Natalie, Moose knows that only Piper has the connections and the audacity to help him pull off a reckless scheme involving the island's most famous inmate. Choldenko, author of Notes from a Liar and Her Dog (Putnam's, 2001/VOYA August 2001), weaves three As—Alcatraz, Al Capone, and autism—into an excellent historical novel for middle-grade readers. A large, annotated 1935 photograph of Alcatraz Island and an informative author's note give substance to the novel's factual sources. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M J (Betterthan most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 240p., Ages 11 to 15.
added by sriches | editVOYA, Walter Hogan (Jul 24, 2009)
Gr 6-8-In this appealing novel set in 1935, 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to Alcatraz Island where his father gets a job as an electrician at the prison and his mother hopes to send his autistic older sister to a special school in San Francisco. When Natalie is rejected by the school, Moose is unable to play baseball because he must take care of her, and her unorthodox behavior sometimes lands him in hot water. He also comes to grief when he reluctantly goes along with a moneymaking scheme dreamed up by the warden's pretty but troublesome daughter. Family dilemmas are at the center of the story, but history and setting-including plenty of references to the prison's most infamous inmate, mob boss Al Capone-play an important part, too. The Flanagan family is believable in the way each member deals with Natalie and her difficulties, and Moose makes a sympathetic main character. The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers with an interest in what it was like for the children of prison guards and other workers to actually grow up on Alcatraz Island.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
added by sriches | editLibrary Journal, Miranda Doyle (Jul 24, 2009)
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To my sister, Gina Johnson,
and to all of us who loved her--
however imperfectly.
First words
Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water.
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Book description
Moose's family moves to a island thats population is made up of some of the most dangerous criminals. Moose struggles with loosing his childhood bestfriend, family struggles and the succlusion of the island.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142403709, Paperback)

Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There's my sister, Natalie, except she doesn't count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook's or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don't want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you're me. I came here because my mother said I had to.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:05 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.

(summary from another edition)

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