Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Al Capone Shines my shoes

Al Capone Shines my shoes

Gennifer Choldenko
Fiction  Series
For ages 10 and up
Penguin, 2009   ISBN: 0803734603

Moose Flanagan’s father works as an electrician and prison guard on Alcatraz Island. It is a strange life living on a small island with some of America’s most infamous criminals, but Moose is getting used it. Recently his life got a lot easier because his sister Natalie now goes to a special school in San Francisco. Nat is autistic, and until now it has always been a struggle for Moose and his parents to meets Nat’s needs.

Then Moose’s life suddenly becomes complicated. Not long ago Moose wrote to Al “Scarface” Capone, one of the convicts on the island, to ask for his help to get Nat into the special school. Somehow Al Capone pulled some strings and Nat got what she needed. Now Al Capone wants a favor in return – he wants Moose to give his wife some flowers when she visits the island. How is Moose supposed to give Mae Capone yellow roses without attracting the attention of the people in charge on the island? If any of the people in charge find out that he communicated with Al Capone, Moose’s father could get fired.

In this delightful sequel to “Al Capone Does my shirts,” Gennifer Choldenko continues the story of Moose and the other civilians who live on Alcatraz Island in the early1930’s. The author beautifully balances the ordinary with the strange. On the one hand, Moose is a typical American boy who loves baseball and who cannot help noticing a pretty girl who lives on the island. On the other he is a child who practically rubs shoulders with gangsters, murderers, and thieves.

At the back of the book the author provides her readers with further information about the island of Alcatraz, autism, and more.