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

Al Capone Does My Shirts

(Tales from Alcatraz #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  41,932 ratings  ·  4,021 reviews
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 ar ...more
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.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  41,932 ratings  ·  4,021 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Al Capone Does My Shirts (Tales from Alcatraz, #1)
Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 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. I ...more
Dec 17, 2008 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
Jessica (thebluestocking)
Oct 29, 2007 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
Deacon Tom F
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Fun book. I really enjoyed this story! A fast paced lark for teens.

Lots of laughs. I received a recommendation from my grandkids and I recommend it to you
Julia M
Jul 09, 2008 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
Apr 21, 2008 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
Feb 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
I did not like Al Capone Does My Shirts at all. I thought the plot was too unique to be believable. The characters had all the same traits and I thought the book was really slow. The only problem in the book was how Moose's sister, Natalie, had aspergers and was not being accepted to a special school to make her more socially comfortable. I could see the outcome of the book way before the ending. I did not enjoy this book at all. Overall, I gave Al Capone Does My Shirts one star. ...more
Now althoughI have indeed much enjoyed the historical San Francisco and Alcatraz setting of Gennifer Choldenko's Newebery Honour winning Al Capone Does My Shirts (and absolutely love the non fictional supplementals at the back of the book which truth be told have been my favourite parts of the book), personally I have found a few rather annoying and frustrating issues with the author's story-telling, with her narrational style, scenarios that have felt rather a bit "off" to and for me.

For one,
Willow Anne
I was very happily surprised by this novel. Even though you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, I definitely did with this one (whoops!). I walked past this book at my old library almost every time I went in there, as it was sitting on a spot on the shelf that I passed by nearly every time, but I never actually picked it up because the cover just didn't interest me. But I'm so glad that I read it now, because this book was amazing!

I loved learning a little about Alcatraz, and the most
Sep 30, 2010 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
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.
Jul 16, 2009 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 w ...more
Oct 31, 2012 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
Luisa Knight
Apr 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this one. I visited Alcatraz a few years ago and saw this book in the gift shop. I thought it’d be a fun and interesting read about a family living on the island. Instead, it was pretty disappointing. I’m not sure that all of the crooks were contained behind the prison walls; at least one (the warden’s daughter) was living at large. A chronic liar and manipulator, she bullied most of the kids living on the island into doing what she wanted, including some things that her ...more
Feb 23, 2012 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 under ...more
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
In 1935, 12-year-old Moose moves with his parents and autistic sister, Natalie, to Alcatraz Island. Despite his best intentions, Moose finds himself under the sway of the warden's conniving daughter, Piper, which distracts him from the important responsibility of caring for Natalie, and above all keeping her condition quiet. Piper ropes Moose into forbidden stunts like selling laundry done by the inmates to their school’s non-prison-dwelling students. But when Natalie’s condition threatens to en ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
1.5 Stars

So disappointing!! I had wanted to read this book for a while, so I was excited when my students chose this as their next read aloud. It didn't take long, however to realize that it wasn't what any of us thought it was going to be.

This story follows Moose Flanagan and it walks you through his life since moving to the famous island of Alcatraz. Moose, along with his rag-tag group of friends, and his sister Natalie - who struggles cognitively - dream about meeting and interacting with Al
Jan 15, 2016 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
Sep 10, 2015 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! ...more
Stormi (BMReviewsohmy)
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was looking around on overdrive trying to find some cute MG books to read because I was just in the mood for something light and fun. I ran across Al Capone Does My Shirts and I had heard of it before and forgotten about it so decided to check it out.

I am glad that I did because it was a really good read.

It’s 1935 and Moose Flanagan is twelve years old and his family is moving to Alcatraz Island because his father got a job working as an electrician/guard. Moose thinks this is going to be the
Oct 21, 2014 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
Ava Pratt
Feb 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: those who like historical fiction and some social issues!
Moose is a normal boy except for the fact that his sister has Aspergers, she is incredibly intelligent. They just moved to the historic island of Alcatraz and finds that it's not as easy as you think it is. There are many rules that they need to follow, and Moose does the opposite. He recently moved to a different school and is told that his sister isn't doing well in her new class. Things are hard in Moose's new house with moving to Alcatraz and much more.

I gave this book one star because over
Lee G.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was great, to say the least. I loved how the characters really felt like they were real. Natalie tells a joke about why does the chicken cross the road. In that joke, she says that his buttons rolled to the other side of the road. She plays with buttons and I have never really seen someone merge someone's issues or addictions into the way they talk and the things that they talk about. It is not a huge revolutionary thing in books but it does matter how you build the character and what ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to booklady by: my dear sister, Julie
Wonderful story about family life on the island of Alcatraz. In particular, this book focuses on a young boy and his autistic sister in a time before special schools and programs were available to help families. It combines humor, speculative history, unusual setting and perceptive empathy for children who are different and those who love them. All-in-all a very memorable and enjoyable book.
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. ...more
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly was impressed and surprised by this book. I was afraid it would be a little "censored" and unintelligent. We all know those books. Overall location was a pretty good idea. The ending was perfect. Goes to show that some people can have insane amounts of power, no matter the challenges. ...more
Dec 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This big kid adored this book for kids and the audio version with narration by Johnny Heller is superb.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Moose and his family have moved to Alcatraz so his dad can work two jobs for better pay because his parents are going to put his sister into a special boarding school. Moose is NOT happy with the move, since he has left his friends behind and isn't keen on living so close to a couple of hundred hard core convicts. Then there is Piper, the bossy daughter of the warden who is only making things worse. This is a funny, fun book with a few rather implausible things in it (not shocking), but it also ...more
Damien Goodwin
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a really good book, I recommend this book to History lovers.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Bears' House
  • Patient Zero: Solving the Mysteries of Deadly Epidemics
  • Fran Ellen's House
  • ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet
  • 1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book
  • Rules
  • Happy to Be Nappy
  • Esperanza Rising
  • The Wednesday Wars
  • V Is for Voting
  • Project Mulberry
  • Flush
  • Belly Up (FunJungle, #1)
  • Because of Mr. Terupt (Mr. Terupt, #1)
  • Firegirl
  • Hoot
  • Ugly Fish
  • Fever 1793
See similar books…
There’s a Lego in my bum which fits with the Lego in my chair and when I sit down to write, I hear the satisfying snap of the two pieces fitting together. I love words, dictionaries, thesauruses, sharp pencils, the smell of book ink and the delicious art of carving out sentences on clean white paper. I love to slip into another person’s skin and feel what it’s like to live another life. I love whe ...more

Other books in the series

Tales from Alcatraz (4 books)
  • Al Capone Shines My Shoes (tales from Alcatraz, #2)
  • Al Capone Does My Homework (Tales from Alcatraz, #3)
  • Al Capone Throws Me a Curve (Tales from Alcatraz, #4)

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
72 likes · 12 comments
“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.” 139 likes
“Now I understand. When you love someone, you have to try things even if they don't make sense to anyone else.” 55 likes
More quotes…