Monday, October 1, 2012

Book Review: Al Capone Does My Shirts

The school librarian recommended this book to my fifth grade son. I can see why. After browsing the internet, I see this book and its follow up, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, both by Gennifer Choldenko, on recommended lists for boys who don’t like adventure stories.

Not that there isn’t adventure in this book. Young “Moose” Flanagan braves breaching a fence of the yard in a maximum security prison to look for a baseball. That takes guts.

The heart of the story is the relationship between Moose and his autistic sister, Natalie. The meat of the story is the setting. They live on Alcatraz Island in 1935, when the renowned criminal Al Capone is in residence.

Moose is like most kids I know, or maybe he is just like my kids.  He loves his independence and begrudgingly takes on responsibility, which he takes seriously. Yet he is still a kid and drawn into the plots of the cute warden’s daughter and the appeal of the infamous.

Al Capone does not actually appear in the book, but makes a significant impact nonetheless, in a very powerful Al Capone way. 


  1. No way! I will read this for me. I grew up on prison grounds with my Warden father! I had inmates wash my car and such. It's a different life when you can hear the hum of the electric fence. Get blinded by the razor wire. And hear (back then) 5,000 inmates cheer when Michael Jordan slam dunked!

    Thanks Jill


  2. Yes, I loved this book too and the 2nd one! One of my favorites, for sure. Glad to hear librarians are recommending it.