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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  34,857 Ratings  ·  3,310 Reviews

Moose Flannagan moves with his family to Alcatraz so his dad can work as a prison guard and his sister, Natalie, can attend a special school.  But Natalie has autism, and when she's denied admittance to the school, the stark setting of Alcatraz begins to unravel the tenuous coping mechanisms Moose's family has used for dealing with her disorder.

When Moose meets Piper, th

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2004)
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Lucas Heindel not on this website. You actually have to read the book.
like the hardcover book

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Rick Riordan
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Full review to come very soon!
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This big kid adored this book for kids and the audio version with narration by Johnny Heller is superb.
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.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Beth Knight
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Annmarie Hernandez
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
Jul 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Christi Mccoy
Nov 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly entertaining! I had never stopped to think about families living in Alcatraz!
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, humor
Perfect. Funny. Smart.
Stephanie  Weatherly
I really enjoyed this book based on Alcatraz Island in the 1930's. While it gave a glimpse into life on the island, the majority of the novel is fictional revolving around Moose. The situations Moose gets him involved in were comical throughout the story, but what I enjoyed the most was the relationship between Moose and his sister Natalie.
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread from my childhood.
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'
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Future Teachers, ...: Clare Hindman Review #2 1 7 Sep 23, 2016 05:20PM  
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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 Throws Me a Curve (Al Capone at Alcatraz, #4)
“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.” 131 likes
“Now I understand. When you love someone, you have to try things even if they don't make sense to anyone else.” 54 likes
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