Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

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 © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Classroom Implications: This text combines adventure, historical fiction, and a young boy's perspective and serves up a great addition to a historical fiction book club selection. The author is meticulous about historical accuracies and inaccuracies. If used in a book club or literature circle, teachers can access this literature circle guide for discussion questions and activities.
Skills and Strategies
  • Determining Importance
  • Making Connections
  • Fact and Opinion

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