Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Al Capone Does My Shirts (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #1)” as Want to Read:
Al Capone Does My Shirts (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Al Capone at Alcatraz #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  33,206 Ratings  ·  3,064 Reviews
A Newbery Honor Book

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
Paperback, 225 pages
Published April 20th 2006 by Puffin Books (first published January 1st 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteElla Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamilloHatchet by Gary PaulsenPrincess Academy by Shannon Hale
Newbery Medal Honor Books
18th out of 317 books — 346 voters
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonThe Fog Within by Nick ShamhartLove Anthony by Lisa GenovaMarcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. StorkTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Autism in Fiction
9th out of 164 books — 301 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 Rick Riordan rated it really liked it
I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, and I’m glad I finally got the chance. It tells the story of 12-year-old Moose Flanagan, whose family moves to Alcatraz in the 1930s when his dad takes a job as a prison guard. The first-person narration is beautifully done. I loved the humor and the relationships between the characters. We assume Al Capone will have a role to play in the book, but it’s not clear what that role will be until the very end, when we get a Gangster ex Machina resolution. ...more
Oct 29, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery
I had to read this book once I learned that it is about little kids who lived on Alcatraz in the 1930s. Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to purchase Alcatraz Island and live there. (Plus, it's a Newberry Honor Book, so it sort of counts towards my goal.)

The book centers around a family: a mother, a father, a "ten" year old sister, and a twelve year old brother, our protagonist, Moose. The family has just moved to Alcatraz Island where the father works around the clock at two jobs so th
Dec 17, 2008 Carol rated it really liked it
With a name like Al Capone Does My Shirts, I was settled in for a good light read, not. Not that it isn't an easy read but there is pathos in this story of Moose Flannagan. Moose is the brother of a severely challenged sister, Natalie, who cannot function in society and is sometimes entombed in her own frightening world to the exclusion of even her family.
Moose's father is a prison guard/electrician on the island of Alcatraz. His mother takes a boat to San Francisco most days to teach piano and
Julia M
Jul 30, 2008 Julia M rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adore this book! Initially, I had to read it for a children's literature class two years ago, but I chose to pick it up again recently because I loved it so much. The story is about a young boy named Moose and his experiences growing up as a prison guard's son on Alcatraz during the 1930's. Moose's younger sister Natalie has special needs, and although her specific diagnosis is unknown, we as readers can assume that she is autistic. Moose's life is made even more interesting when he ...more
Sep 24, 2012 Kristine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: family and friends of someone with autism, anyone
I read this poolside during our SoCal vacation -- and I was pleasantly surprised.

Moose's family moves to Alcatraz where his dad has taken a job as an electrician. He has a "younger" sister who has autism and the family is trying to get her into a special school.

If you think about it there are so many parts of the story that are heart-wrenching . . . the author does an amazing job of making emotional connections with each character. You can see the grief cycle in each member: anger, denial, bar
Nov 05, 2012 Stephen rated it really liked it
Surprisingly upbeat for a book set in the Great Depression and dealing with the subject of autism. From the first paragraphs I realized that this was not the light-hearted, funny book that the title suggested. And yet it was a good wholesome read that left one feeling better rather than worse. This book walks the fine line between tense and funny and yet has heart. It should be a good recommendation for reluctant readers, particularly of the young male persuasion.

Told from a young man's perspec
Mar 03, 2016 Yasmin rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Full review to come very soon!
Feb 23, 2012 Meghan rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading Al Capone Does My Shirts for a few reasons. First of all, it was a very quick read. The writing style was so simple, so it was a walk in the park to read on a Tuesday night. Secondly, the setting and the characters were very interesting. I think many of the characters had unique voices and mannerisms that made them memorable. However, some of the characters weren't very active in the plot and it just left me with questions about their participation in the book. The ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Lilly rated it it was amazing
I read this book a long time ago, probably about fourth grade. I know it is a great book because four years later, I still remember how much I enjoyed reading this book. I do not remember all the teeny tiny details, but I do remember the brand new perspective I gained from reading this book, a new perspective of people. People do not fit in cookie cutters or molds, every person is unique. To me this book is all about perspective. It explores the different perspectives of people with autism, and ...more
Oct 22, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
One of the best middle-grade books I have read. It's fabulous! It's both funny and very much tender. It is set in 1935 but very much feels like it's happening at this very moment. The relationship between the main character and his sister is so well done. Absolutely a great read for age 10 and up!
Dec 03, 2008 Robin rated it it was amazing
This big kid adored this book for kids and the audio version with narration by Johnny Heller is superb.
May 30, 2012 J.P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is why it pays for writers to be creative. I was looking around for books by authors I hadn’t read before and I remembered the title so I gave it a shot. I’m glad I did.
The setting is original. Imagine moving to and growing up on Alcatraz. The book is centered on Moose, whose father works as an electrician and guard. He has an autistic older sister named Natalie and his nemesis on the island is Piper who just happens to be the warden’s daughter.
You can’t help but feel sorry for Moose and Na
Jul 23, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it
This is a really great book. I'd been meaning to read it for years and finally got around to it! Moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatrez Island where his father works as a guard so that his sister Natalie can go to a special school in San Francisco for kids with disabilities. Today, Natalie would have been diagnosed with autism, but back then they didn't know what to do with her. The author deals with this topic very sensitively and emotionally, because it's based on her own experiences ...more
Sep 30, 2010 Jinky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I don't agree with the enthusiasm for this book. A Newbery Honor, really? At least it didn't win.

I wanted to like this book. A story about families living on Alcatraz where the worst of the worst convicts reside was alluring. But this book just didn't cut it. The characters developments were horrid. Moose was wishy-washy, Piper incredibly reckless, and the adults were idiots. The only character that the author got right was Natalie. Plus, the whole 'let's see how close we can monopolize Al Capo
Jan 15, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Read this on the plane before visiting Alcatraz, and it was the perfect introduction. I was reading more for the historical nuggets, but there was a wealth of pitch-perfect human interactions and that was the meat of this book: kids who felt real, and parents who felt real, and an adult who felt just shy of villainy in a way that of course a kid would see the guy, and a fabulous representation of autism in the 1930s. The plot felt a little undeveloped - the book ended so suddenly! - but let's ca ...more
Beth Knight
Nov 02, 2014 Beth Knight rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, own-it
I enjoyed reading this and plan on reading the other two in the series: Al Capone Shines My Shoes and Al Capone does my homework. While this is obviously a work of fiction it is historically accurate. I find Alcatraz intersting and the fact that families lived on the island during the prison's existence absolutely fascinating.

The book's characters are fascinating as well. I loved the interaction between the protagonist, Mathew (a.k.a. Moose) and his sister, Natalie. Natalie is autistic so it wa
I know I'm late to discovering this one, but it is just terrific. Great historical fiction, but also a whole lot more as we watch Moose navigate a move, new school, and the challenges of having a sister who today we'd identify as having autism. Choldenko's development of Moose's character is masterful. She nailed the adolescent firestorm of emotions.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Interesting setting (Alcatraz, 1930s) and unusual characters
(boy with autistic sister), but I wouldn't have given this the Newbery honor book award.
Aug 27, 2016 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Looking for a book for an adolescent? This is a Newbery Honor book, and the first of a series, but it stands alone. I heard the author speak and bought her book. Choldenko studied the prison records and learned that Al Capone really did work in the laundry room at Alcatraz. This story grew out of that fact. Quick and easy chapter read. Probably for middle school, grades 6-8.

Fiction, set in about 1932, based on the gangster's incarceration at "The Rock" in San Francisco Bay. The prison-keepers'
Jessica B
Jun 07, 2015 Jessica B rated it really liked it
A historical fiction chapter book about a boy named Moose who lives in Alcatraz. Moose is forced to move there because his father is a security guard. His family is struggling for money, and having a difficult time getting his sister in a good school due to her autism. He begins to make money by drying people’s shirts in the Alcatraz laundry room. Moose struggles with watching his sister Natalie; he has to care for her a lot. When Moose takes Natalie outside in public he fears she won’t be able ...more
Kristine Hansen
I'd heard a lot about this book and am very glad I finally picked it up. For one thing, you've got Alcatraz - what's not to like about the country's most famous prison for a setting for a kid's book?

Oh don't get me wrong, this isn't a book for little kids, it's actually aimed at middle readers though older readers can get a lot out of it too.

Now we add in the depression, one of the world's most famous criminals, and autism and you've got something interesting.

Yep, I said autism.

This isn't so
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Though I first heard of this book years ago, I didn’t really know anything about it and wasn’t particularly moved to learn more. It just looked like it would be some sort of book with typical guy humor and gangsters, which just is not my scene. However, I got an ARC of book three, which I totally didn’t get to on time, but I refuse to feel guilty about that since they sent me book three in a series I’d not read. Anyway, that made me want to give the series a shot, and the audiobook was on ...more
Nov 13, 2015 Tina rated it it was amazing
A middle grade Newberry Honor book that a big kid like me could fully appreciate. Based on historical facts, this book takes place on the Island of Alcatraz in 1935. It's the story of Moose Flanagan and his family who are forced to move to Alcatraz when Moose's father takes a job as electrician and guard at the prison. A place where tough criminals like Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly were incarcerated. Moose is 12 and trying to find his way in a new community while helping care of his ...more
Jon Cox
Mar 10, 2010 Jon Cox rated it did not like it
This was one of the least humorous and least enjoyable childrens' books I have ever read. The title convinced me that it would be funny. In the whole book, there was only one place I smiled. The protagonist is portrayed fairly realistically, and the general situation of having an autistic sister and trying to cope with the ensuing experiences was probably fairly realistic as well, but I didn't like any of the characters. Some of them were downright repulsive, especially the love interest. And ...more
Annmarie Hernandez
Dec 07, 2015 Annmarie Hernandez rated it it was amazing
When you hear the word ALCATRAZ what comes to your mind,to me Alcatraz island means the place on Earth where the worst criminals of society go to.Al Capone is a well known criminal of his time and he gets the duty of washing and drying clothes. Al Capone washes all island citizen's clothes but 1 kid named Moose finds it surprising that he actually gets to say that Al Capone does his shirts.I recommend this book to people who like true stories and books about the one and only Alcatraz island. Al ...more
Dec 24, 2008 Lonette rated it really liked it
Liked it. Plot circles around society's treatment of autisitic children in the 1930's and one brother's efforts to help his autistic sister. Creative plot location.
so I am split.

this book totally earned its place as a Newbery honor, but readers who find the title appealing are not going to find this book anywhere near what they expect it to be
Jan 24, 2009 Valerie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ian
This book had an intriguing setting, 1935 San Francisco and a great sibling story line.
Christi Mccoy
Nov 18, 2015 Christi Mccoy rated it really liked it
Incredibly entertaining! I had never stopped to think about families living in Alcatraz!
Sep 07, 2008 Linda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, humor
Perfect. Funny. Smart.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Future Teachers, ...: Clare Hindman Review #2 1 7 Sep 23, 2016 05:20PM  
Al Capone Does My Shirts 3 22 Feb 26, 2016 11:49AM  
  • The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
  • Elijah of Buxton
  • Joey Pigza Loses Control (Joey Pigza, #2)
  • Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
  • The Teacher's Funeral : A Comedy in Three Parts
  • Our Only May Amelia (May Amelia, #1)
  • The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights
  • Show Way
  • Heart of a Samurai
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
  • Belle Prater's Boy
  • The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom
  • 26 Fairmount Avenue (26 Fairmount Avenue, #1)
  • The Storm in the Barn
  • What Jamie Saw
  • Hattie Big Sky (Hattie, #1)
  • Breaking Stalin's Nose
  • Lily's Crossing
How did a girl named Snot-Nose end up publishing children’s books?

Here are the facts as I know them . . .

I am the youngest of four kids, all of whom have big mouths. We were so loud, that once a lady asked my brother if our mother was deaf.

She was not.

The only sibling who did not have the trademark Johnson big mouth was my sister, Gina, who had Autism. My parents worked very hard to try to fig
More about Gennifer Choldenko...

Other Books in the Series

Al Capone at Alcatraz (4 books)
  • Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #2)
  • Al Capone Does My Homework (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #3)
  • Al Capone Does My Dishes (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #4)

Share This Book

“Nobody knows how things will turn out, that's why they go ahead and play the game...You give it your all and sometimes amazing things happen, but it's hardly ever what you expect.” 126 likes
“Now I understand. When you love someone, you have to try things even if they don't make sense to anyone else.” 51 likes
More quotes…