RDG 6319 Foundations of Reading, Summer 2017 discussion

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Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenke

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 14 comments Mod
This story reaches far beyond Al Capone. The story takes place in 1935 on Alcatraz Island. Moose's family has just moved to the island because his father will be working as a guard at the prison. Intrigued yet? His sister, Natalie, is autistic. Yet, in 1935 there wasn't a name for autism. How does Al Capone play into the story? You will have to read to find out! Enjoy!


message 2: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Skiles | 14 comments I absolutely adore this book!. 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. The author deals with this topic very sensitively and emotionally, because it is based on real life experiences with her sister. Moose's life is made even more interesting when he begins corresponding with Al Capone, one of the most notorious gangsters ever imprisoned on Alcatraz.

Al Capone is imprisoned on Alcatraz at the time (the 1930's) and amazingly enough, there were actually 50 or 60 families that made their residence on the island then. The warden wanted his guards to live close by in the event of a problem, and many of the families considered it a very safe place to live. I had no idea! Moose makes friends with some of the kids on the island, does a lot of growing up, and gets into some trouble

This is perhaps one of the most unique stories I have ever read. I am definitely planning on using this book in my classroom this year, and I can't wait to see what my students think!


message 3: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Wolf (mrskewolf) | 51 comments I had no idea this book was going to be as gut-wrenchingly beautiful as it was. There were pages where I laughed and pages where I cried. There were times I was furious at Piper and other times that I adored Moose for his sensitivity toward his sister.

Understanding that Natalie was a unique girl was central to this book. Everything about Moose's life was unconventional, even down to where he lived - Alcatraz Island! He even convinced the famed Al Capone to help him with his cause.

This book is perfect for students like mine - they go through phases of being asked to do what they feel is "too much" for them to handle, and I think this book will enable many of them to connect with the emotions of Moose and his family.


message 4: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Peaks | 14 comments This book was amazing!!! I loved the color and how it is appealing to all audiences. In this story Moose and his family moved from Santa Monica to Alcatraz. I thought it was interesting that the island they moved to was known to have children with illnesses. I think this book would be great to read in a classroom because it shows how all the students aren't the same. I believe it would teach students to be kind and respectful to everyone.


message 5: by Tanner (new)

Tanner Pruitt | 11 comments I had never even heard of this book before. When my friend Courtney found out it was still on the reading list she got really excited. I'd have to say that I agree with her. It is such an interesting book, I think that everyone should read it at some point. (I had never really known anything about Alcatraz before) It was really cool to read about. When my dad heard that it was about Alcatraz he told me that they had sharks swimming around the island and it was supposed to be one of the safest inescapable prisons. (As nerdy as I am I immediately made the connection to Azkaban from Harry Potter... They have that supposedly inescapable prison and instead of sharks, they have dementors... ) I also forget a lot that there was a time before people knew about certain conditions and that had to have been hard for Moose's family. But, it was great that Moose was so caring and sensitive to his sister and her needs.


message 6: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Ram Gosnell | 42 comments I am so curious to see what students think of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would absolutely use it in the classroom. I may choose it for my novel project, so I'm wondering now what other book (canonical or non) it could possibly pair with well. Let me know if anyone has any suggestions!

Since one of my siblings is a low-functioning autistic adult, I really empathize with these characters. I would absolutely want to make sure students enjoyed it versus being something I push on them to read. I thought the plot was smart and suspenseful, and the ending was fabulous!


message 7: by Erica (new)

Erica Morales | 25 comments This book is not what I was expecting at all. It took me a little ibt to really get into it. I honestly thought I would not be interested enough to finish the book. I kept reading and I truly enjoyed it.

I really felt for Moose. His parents expected him to be responsible for his sister, adjust to the move, and everything else that goes with childhood. I think Moose dealt with all these responsibilities the best way he could. I loved his parents. His sweet mother was determined to find the best possible thing for Natalie even though no one knew about Autism at the time.

That Piper! She is something else and just a mean girl. I can't believe how mean she could be about Natalie.


message 8: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Ram Gosnell | 42 comments Stephanie wrote: "I absolutely adore this book!. 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 sp..."

I agree. It is very unique. I had heard from a student that it was a mystery (and that was the extent of the description), so I was not expecting to see such depth. After finishing the novel, I looked up the author to see if I could find out what her inspiration was. I learned that she has an autistic sibling, and that she lives in the San Francisco area.


message 9: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Ram Gosnell | 42 comments Erica wrote: "This book is not what I was expecting at all. It took me a little ibt to really get into it. I honestly thought I would not be interested enough to finish the book. I kept reading and I truly enjoy..."

Moose really had too much on his plate; this is very common of children with a special needs sibling. There are absolute moments of feeling overwhelmed with trusted responsibilities while feeling neglected/ignored at the same time.


message 10: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Wolf (mrskewolf) | 51 comments Stephanie wrote: "I absolutely adore this book!. 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 sp..."

Stephanie, I used this book as my novel study and i am begging my AP to buy us class sets. I LOVE this story so much. My baby brother is going in to 8th grade this year - i think I am going to buy him the set.


message 11: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Wolf (mrskewolf) | 51 comments Ashley wrote: "I am so curious to see what students think of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and would absolutely use it in the classroom. I may choose it for my novel project, so I'm wondering now what other..."

I think this would be a great book to teach about the difficulties of autism and how it went as undiagnosed by so many because of the stigma. Nat was such a sweet character. I wanted things to be from her point of view and hear her thought process.


message 12: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Wolf (mrskewolf) | 51 comments Erica wrote: "This book is not what I was expecting at all. It took me a little ibt to really get into it. I honestly thought I would not be interested enough to finish the book. I kept reading and I truly enjoy..."

Piper drove me BONKERS. I was annoyed with her more than i wasn't, especially when the Warden called them all in about the money fiasco. I actually had to put the book down to cool off for a second. Haha!


message 13: by Ixtchel (new)

Ixtchel Olalde | 24 comments I really like this novel...it is an amazing story and I can imagine how many students must always ask...who's Al Capone.....I think that with younger students you could extend lessons such as letters to All Capone or to the main character... maybe normal what it's like living in Alcatraz... with older students I would hear some work toward research and challenge then to create a model or may of Alcatraz... overall the story is very enjoyable... lots of angles to choose from in how to share it with a class across several grade levels....


message 14: by Hilda (new)

Hilda Lerma | 41 comments This book really is unique in that it mentions a prison on an island and citizens living in it. This is the first time I read this book. I feel that this book will connect to many students. For example, Moose and Natalie have a father that has two jobs. I remember my mom used to have two jobs when I was growing up. I would like to have my students create a 3D model similar to Alcatraz using 3D shapes. It would be great to find out what they will come up with!


message 15: by Hilda (new)

Hilda Lerma | 41 comments Ixtchel wrote: "I really like this novel...it is an amazing story and I can imagine how many students must always ask...who's Al Capone.....I think that with younger students you could extend lessons such as lette..."

I love your idea about making letters to Al Capone! It would be fun to also exchange letters with other students and then reply to the letters.


message 16: by Hilda (new)

Hilda Lerma | 41 comments Stephanie wrote: "I absolutely adore this book!. 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 sp..."

I agree with you. This book is very unique. I was not expecting this kind of story. I would definitely have my students predict what the story will be about before reading the story.


message 17: by Tien (new)

Tien Dinh | 14 comments What an incredible novel! I genuinely really enjoyed it. The novel was about a family in the 1930's. Moose was a son of a prison guard on Alcatraz. He struggled with his love/hate relationship with his sister due to her disability. Throughout the novel, it depicted Moose and his correspondence with the ultimate infamous gangster, Al Capone. I feel like It is a great novel to introduce young students to the theme of coming of age and tolerance/acceptance of disabilities in individuals.


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