Review and Summary: Al Capone Does My Shirts

Title:  Al Capone Does my Shirts

Author:  Gennifer Choldenko

Publisher:  Puffin Books

Genre:  Historical Fiction

A Newbery Honor Book

Al Capone Does My Shirts is a book about what life was like on Alcatraz. It takes place in the year 1935 and it is more like a journal than anything. The main characters are Moose, Natalie, and Piper. Piper is a pretty, annoying, bossy girl who likes bending the rules behind her father – the warden’s back and demands attentive behavior when she’s around. Moose is a hulking twelve year-old the size of a linebacker. Natalie is Moose’s autistic sister that no one can understand and contorts her body into weird positions.

The ominous Al Capone and the country’s most dangerous cons, murderers, and thieves live in the cells on the island with them. Moose’s father works as an electrician on the island and is the reason they are there. Moose is always vigilant and full of stamina. It is conspicuous that he is worried that Natalie will get hurt. Whenever he calms down something happens and replenishes his fear. He meets some new friends at school and plays ball and he dispels his worries that he won’t have any friends. Trouble brews in his family and hangs in the air like the cheapest fragrance at a mall perfume store. One day, terror materializes in Moose’s head as his sister interacts with a con. But the impending fact that Natalie is getting better calms him down. They face many twists and turns but in the end all works out.

I thought that this book had a very catchy title, but it doesn’t really fit the book. Yes, it is true that the cons wash the shirts, but that is only spoken of like two times. Yes, there is some talk about Capone in the background, but it is not the focus of the book. In fact, other than life on Alcatraz, I really couldn’t tell you what the book’s really about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good book, but I think the author could have a better job with the title. There is a sequel called Al Capone Shines My Shoes that I have not read, but I will pretty soon. Over all I thought this was a very good story.

Posted by: Fred Reads

P.S. My ten weekly spelling words are on this review. Can you guess what they are?


1 Comment

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One response to “Review and Summary: Al Capone Does My Shirts

  1. Hey Fred,

    Thanks for the review, sorry it took me a few days to get to it. I will have your others up this week as well.

    As far as the title goes – could you recommend a few alternative titles?

    What ages and what type of reader would you recommend this book for (if you’d recommend it to anyone?)

    Spelling words, lets see…


    How close am I this week?

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