Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

book cover image from

Choldenko, Gennifer.  Al Capone Does My Shirts.  228 p.  Putnam’s.  2004.  ISBN 978-0-399-23861-1.Can you imagine living on a small island that is home  to some of the most notorious criminals?  Well, in Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko, it’s 1935, and 12-year-old Moose and his family live on Alcatraz, a small island near San Francisco, California,  that once was a maximum security prison.  His family moved to Alcatraz from Southern California, where Moose’s baseball team was doing really well, so that his Dad could became an electrician there, and so his autistic sister, Natalie, could attend a special school.

Moose is often relied on to take care of his sister by taking her places and watching her.  Moose’s Mom spends much of her time tending to Natalie’s needs, and not a lot of time tending to Moose’s needs.  Moose’s Dad is not super involved in Moose’s life.

Moose becomes friends with the few kids on “the rock”, as Alcatraz is called. The head warden’s daughter, Piper, is a cute girl, but she’s trouble.  It seems whenever she’s around, Moose gets into trouble.

Moose just wants to play baseball, and try to fit in.  Will he be able to do that?  Read Al Capone Does My Shirts to find out.

Note:  This fiction book is complemented by the nonfiction book Children of Alcatraz:  Growing Up on the Rock by Claire Rudolf Murphy (not in the Harvest Park library at this time)

Genre: historical fiction

Tags: Alcatraz, Al Capone, family, autism, siblings, friends, California, prisons

Author website:  Gennifer Choldenko

Series:  This book is the first book of two in the Al Capone on Alcatraz series.

A/R Reading level: 5.0

Interest level:  Grades 5-8

Link to Harvest Park Library catalog:  Al Capone Does My Shirts

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