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Cover image for Al Capone does my shirts
Al Capone does my shirts


Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, ©2004.
Physical Description:
228 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Number in series:
bk. 1
General Note:
Sequel: Al Capone shines my shoes.
Devil's Island -- Errand boy -- Trick monkey -- American laugh-nosed beet -- Murderers darn my socks -- Sucker -- Big for seventh grade -- Prison guy plays ball -- Nice little church boy -- Not ready -- The best in the country -- What about the electric chair? -- One-woman commando unit -- Al Capone's baseball -- Looking for Scarface -- Capone washed your shirts -- Baseball on Tuesday -- Not on my team -- Daddy's little Miss -- Warning -- It never rains on Monday -- Al Capone's Mama -- She's not cute -- Like a regular sister -- My gap -- Convict baseball -- Idiot -- Tall for her age -- Convict choir boy -- Eye -- My dad -- The button box -- The sun and the moon -- Happy birthday -- The truth -- Waiting -- Carrie Kelly -- What happened? -- The warden -- Al Capone does my shirts.
A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.
Reading Level:
600 Lexile.
Program Information:
Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.7 13.0 36125.

MG 74909. Accelerated Reader AR 3.5 7.0.

Accelerated Reader Grades 5-8 3.5 7.0 Quiz 74909 English fiction, vocabulary quiz available.


Call Number
J Choldenko

On Order



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, the cute daughter of the Warden, he knows right off she's trouble. But she's also strangely irresistible. All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents' expectations, and stay out of trouble. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.

Set in 1935, when guards actually lived on Alcatraz Island with their families. Choldenko's second novel brings humor to the complexities of family dynamics and illuminates the real struggle of a kid trying to free himself from the "good boy" stance he's taken his whole life.

Author Notes

Gennifer Choldenko was born in Santa Monica, California.

Gennifer Choldenko is a Newbery Honor-winning American writer of popular books for children and adolescents. Her first novel, Notes From a Liar and Her Dog was named "Best Book of the Year" by School Library Journal and her second, Al Capone Does My Shirts, part of Al Capone on Alcatraz series, won the 2005 Newbery Honor citation.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-8-In this appealing novel set in 1935, 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to Alcatraz Island where his father gets a job as an electrician at the prison and his mother hopes to send his autistic older sister to a special school in San Francisco. When Natalie is rejected by the school, Moose is unable to play baseball because he must take care of her, and her unorthodox behavior sometimes lands him in hot water. He also comes to grief when he reluctantly goes along with a moneymaking scheme dreamed up by the warden's pretty but troublesome daughter. Family dilemmas are at the center of the story, but history and setting-including plenty of references to the prison's most infamous inmate, mob boss Al Capone-play an important part, too. The Flanagan family is believable in the way each member deals with Natalie and her difficulties, and Moose makes a sympathetic main character. The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers with an interest in what it was like for the children of prison guards and other workers to actually grow up on Alcatraz Island.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set on Alcatraz Island in 1935, Choldenko's (Notes from a Liar and Her Dog) exceptionally atmospheric novel has equally unusual characters and plot lines. Twelve-year-old narrator Moose Flanagan has just moved to the island, where his father has been hired as an electrician and guard. At first Moose is spooked at being in such close proximity to the nation's most notorious criminals, and he doesn't know what to make of the all-powerful warden's bossy daughter, Piper, who flouts her father's rule about talking about the convicts ("You say [Al Capone's] name and hordes of reporters come crawling out of the woodwork ready to write stories full of foolish lies," the warden explains). At school, on the mainland, Piper hatches a scheme to make money from classmates ("Once in a lifetime opportunity! Get your clothes laundered by Al Capone and other world-famous public enemies!... Only costs 5 cents") and forces Moose to help her. Moose has reasons for staying on Piper's good side: his older sister, Natalie, has what would now be called autism, and Moose worries that her behavior will land the family in trouble with the warden. (Natalie's condition is so poorly understood that an expert tells her desperate mother, "An interesting case... you should consider donating her brain to science when she dies.") Choldenko captures the tense, nuanced family dynamics touched off by Natalie's disability as skillfully as she handles the mystique of Alcatraz and the exchanges between Moose and his friends. Fast-paced and memorable. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

When his father gets a job as an electrician at Alcatraz, Moose's family moves to the famous prison island. Against this vividly evoked setting, Moose butts heads with the warden's scheming daughter and gets help from a surprising source for his older sister, who exhibits the symptoms of autism (the book is set in 1935, before the disease was identified). The solid novel concludes with a historical note. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Moose's world is turned upside down when his family moves to Alcatraz Island where his Dad has taken a job as a prison guard. Super-responsible Moose, big for 12, finds himself caught in the social interactions of this odd cut-off world. He cares for his sister who is older, yet acts much younger due to her autism and he finds his life alternating between frustration and growth. His mother focuses all of her attention on ways to cure the sister; his dad works two jobs and meekly accepts the mother's choices; his fellow island-dwellers are a funny mix of oddball characters and good friends. Basing her story on the actual experience of those who supported the prison in the '30s--when Al Capone was an inmate--Choldenko's pacing is exquisite, balancing the tense family dynamics alongside the often-humorous and riveting school story of peer pressure and friendship. Fascinating setting as a metaphor for Moose's own imprisonment and enabling some hysterically funny scenes, but a great read no matter where it takes place. (lengthy author's note with footnotes to sources) (Fiction. 11-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-8. Twelve-year-old Moose moves to Alcatraz in 1935 so his father can work as a prison guard and his younger, autistic sister, Natalie, can attend a special school in San Francisco. It is a time when the federal prison is home to notorious criminals like gangster Al Capone. Depressed about having to leave his friends and winning baseball team behind, Moose finds little to be happy about on Alcatraz. He never sees his dad, who is always working; and Natalie's condition-- her tantrums and constant needs--demand all his mother's attention. Things look up for Moose when he befriends the irresistible Piper, the warden's daughter, who has a knack for getting Moose into embarrassing but harmless trouble. Helped by Piper, Moose eventually comes to terms with his new situation. With its unique setting and well-developed characters, this warm, engaging coming-of-age story has plenty of appeal, and Choldenko offers some fascinating historical background on Alcatraz Island in an afterword. --Ed Sullivan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Table of Contents

Part 1
1. Devil's Islandp. 3
2. Errand Boyp. 7
3. Trick Monkeyp. 13
4. American Laugh-Nosed Beetp. 22
5. Murderers Darn My Socksp. 29
6. Suckerp. 35
7. Big for Seventh Gradep. 42
8. Prison Guy Plays Ballp. 48
9. Nice Little Church Boyp. 53
10. Not Readyp. 60
11. The Best in the Countryp. 64
12. What About the Electric Chair?p. 71
13. One-Woman Commando Unitp. 80
14. Al Capone's Baseballp. 87
15. Looking for Scarfacep. 90
16. Capone Washed Your Shirtsp. 98
17. Baseball on Tuesdayp. 103
18. Not on My Teamp. 106
19. Daddy's Little Missp. 109
20. Warningp. 117
Part 2
21. It Never Rains on Mondayp. 125
22. Al Capone's Mamap. 130
23. She's not Cutep. 135
24. Like a Regular Sisterp. 140
25. My Gapp. 143
26. Convict Baseballp. 147
27. Idiotp. 149
28. Tall for Her Agep. 154
29. Convict Choir Boyp. 159
30. Eyep. 165
31. My Dadp. 171
32. The Button Boxp. 174
Part 3
33. The Sun and the Moonp. 179
34. Happy Birthdayp. 186
35. The Truthp. 192
36. Waitingp. 195
37. Carrie Kellyp. 199
38. What happened?p. 205
39. The Wardenp. 212
40. Al Capone Does My Shirtsp. 215
Author's Notep. 217
Notesp. 227