Monday, October 31, 2016

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Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

This story is about a boy named Moose Flanagan and his family, and how they move to Alcatraz, a tiny island off the coast of San Francisco, which houses some of the country's most dangerous criminals. Moose is not happy about being away from where he is used to calling home, stuck on a cement rock where most of the population is behind bars. He is also very unhappy that he has to keep an eye on his autistic sister, Natalie. Natalie was accepted into the Esther P. Marinoff School, which was supposed to help her, but unfortunately, she's sent back home almost immediately because she's just not adjusting to the school. And that means that Moose becomes her main babysitter. Moose tries to make some friends and he does with a girl named Piper, she’s the wardens daughter, and while there together they get themselves in some adventures to keep them busy. However, they break the rules in the process. Most of the ideas they come up end up not working or the kids lose interest in it. He become very scared for his sister because she is making friends with a con and that con also gives him a basketball, but he soon realizes that this is a bad idea and stops wonder around the prison. This hurts Natalie though, because she was getting better being in the outside world and now she wasn’t. They tried to get her into that school again but got rejected. Then Moose takes things into his own hands and writes a letter to the infamous Al Capone who’s inside Alcatraz, to try and use his connections to get his sister in. Within days Natalie was accepted in the Esther P Marinoff School.

I found this book really interesting and I really enjoyed reading it. I really like how the author made an emphasis on autism in this book. I don’t really have a connection with autism except the fact that I might have some autistic children in my class in the future. I think this would be appropriate for 5th and 6th and up.

Amanda B 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Product DetailsAl Capone Does My Shirts written by Gennifer Choldenko is a type of Historical Fiction. This book fits into this category because it uses both a historical place, Alcatraz, and historical people, Al Capone. Al Capone Does My Shirts takes a look at what it was like to live on Alcatraz Island during the time it was up and operational.
Al Capone Does My Shirts tells the story of Moose and his family moving to Alcatraz Island and all of the events that happen in this family’s life. The story starts out by introducing the main characters, Moose Flanagan, Natalie Flanagan, and their mother and father. The book tells the story of Moose and his family moving to Alcatraz Island and all of the events that happen in this family’s life. The main event that happens in this story is the family is trying to get Natalie into a school called “Ester P. Mirinoff”. The reason they are trying to get her into this school is because she has many disabilities and the family wants her to be able to live and work in her society. When they first drop Natalie off at her new school everyone is sad but they know it's the best place for her.
Moose also starts at new school that is located off the island. Only one other child on the island goes to this school and that is the Warden’s daughter, named Piper. Piper is always scheming and trying to do things that are against the rules without getting caught. One of her newest plans is to have the children and her and Moose’s school pay five cents to get their shirt washed by a notorious criminal like Al Capone. Moose continually tells Piper that he doesn’t want to be apart of this kind of thing because he does not want to get in trouble with the Warden. Piper tells him day after day they won’t get into any trouble, but one day all of the children that lived on the island were called to the Warden’s office and got in trouble for doing this, even though Moose never took part in it. The Warden told them that if they pull one more stunt like that their families would be kicked off the island.
The after the first day of Natalie being at her new school the head director called and said that it wasn’t working out, so Natalie needs to go back and live with her family until she was under better control. This was heartbreaking to her mother, so she asked the director what their family can do to fix this. He gave her the phone number of Carrie Kelly and told them that she should be able to help them out. With Natalie being back at home someone had to be there to watch her all of the time. Moose’s Mother told him that she would be teaching piano lessons so he is going to have to help watch his sister every day after school. Moose wanted no part in that especially on Monday because he was supposed to play baseball with his new friends at school. His mother told him that they need the extra money to pay for Natalie’s help so he had to watch her whether he liked it or not. Moose didn’t want to do it, so he gave his sister both buttons and lemon cake which she is not supposed to have.
Moose treated Natalie like she was just a normal sister and took him everywhere on the island he went. Moose was in great search for a convicts baseball for his friend Scout, so everyday Moose and his sister would climb the hill and try to find a baseball. One day when Moose came back from searching he couldn’t find Natalie anywhere. He began to frantically search for her and found her holding hands with a convict which was against the rules. He tried to tell his parents about the incident but couldn’t bring himself to tell them everything. He decided to stay inside all day with his sister to prevent this from happening again. One day Natalie really wanted to go outside and when Moose wouldn’t let her she began to throw a terrible temper tantrum. He quickly took her outside and she ran to find her friend, the convict. Moose wanted to stop her but he let her go and just stayed very close watching the entire time.
The day after Natalie’s birthday it was time for her to go back to Ester P. Mirinoff to see if she can get their help now.  Moose's Mom believed she was going to get in this time because she had improved so much over the past few months and was even able to tell a joke during the interview. When the phone rang a few days later the director said that she still wasn’t a good fit. Moose was mad. He wanted what was best for his sister, and this wasn’t fair. He went to see the Warden to find out if he could help him out at all with this problem. The Warden said he couldn’t and told Moose to get to school. Moose was still very upset and wanted to take matters into his own hands, so he and Piper wrote a letter to Al Capone to see if he could help. Quite a while went by and they still hadn’t heard anything back from Al Capone, but on their last day of school when they got back to the island everyone was waiting for them. They all had some great news to share.
There was only one illustration in this book, which was a picture of the Alcatraz Island looked like back in 1935. This picture doesn’t really help or hurt the story. It is just kind a reference for the reader incase they wanted to know exactly where a certain part of the story was taking place. The picture is placed right at the beginning of the book, to help readers get a feel for the island before they even start to read the story.
Al Capone Does My Shirts is a pretty good book. I personally thought that Part One of the book was a little slow, but once I got into Part Two and Three I found the book to be very interesting. The text of the book was written really well and helped give the characters life in many parts of the book. I would recommend this book for a child who is in fourth grade and above. If you go younger than fourth grade the students really wouldn’t understand the story and be quite confused the whole time. Fourth graders could easily understand the text and the style that the story is written in and have fun with the book. I could see myself using this book in my future classroom if I teach in fourth grade or above. Overall, Al Capone Does My Shirts was a great book, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes history or historical fiction to read.

Jessica R.

Al Capone Does My Shirts By Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts By Gennifer Choldenko



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Moose Flanagan, a young boy and his family, are uprooted and replanted in one of the county’s most popular and iconic locations-Alcatraz.  Natalie, Moose’s older sister, happens to be autistic, and is in need to go to a school that is better suited for her and her needs. Moose’s father takes a job as a prison guard at the legendary prison, which happens to hold one of the most famous and notorious criminals of all time- Al Capone.  Moose does not like the fact that he is responsible for watching after Natalie. Moose is upset about leaving his home; he misses his friends and grandma.

After arriving on Alcatraz, Moose meets some kids his age, including Piper, the warden’s daughter. Piper happens to be a rule breaker and is always making trouble. She is known for breaking her father’s rules which consists of not talking to the prisoners. Moose’s parents enroll Natalie into Esther P. Marinoff School, which is a place that should be able to help Natalie excel, however Natalie is not too thrilled when her parents drop her off for her first day. Moose is not too excited about starting a new school as well. He soon learns of Pipers scheme that she has at school by charging her classmates to have the prisoners wash their cloths. Moose denies helping Piper with her rule breaking.

Scout, a boy at school, shares Moose’s love for baseball and Scout happens to have his own baseball team and invites Moose to be a part of it.  Moose’s parents receive a call from the school, not long after they drop Natalie off, asking them to come pick Natalie back up because she is not ready for their program.  Moose is annoyed because this means that he will have to take care of his sister and watch her more; he loves her, but he find it difficult looking after his older sister. Moose has always enjoyed playing baseball, but since their move, his dad has been far too busy with work to play catch with him, however his dad will make time to spend with Natalie to give his mother a break from taking care of her. Moose’s mother tells him that he must take his sister with him where ever he goes for her therapy; in a result of this Moose is now unable to be a part of Scouts team.

In the mean time, Pipers father finds out about the students having the prisoners wash their cloths and yells at all of the students, including Moose (who did not take part in it),  and neglects to punish or yell at his daughter who was behind the whole thing.

Moose decides to walk along the prison wall in search of a ball that has flown over for his friend Scout, and because his mother insists of it, he has to take Natalie along with him.  Moose then realizes that one of the prisoners, working in the garden, becomes friends with Natalie, and Moose worries and refuses to take Natalie there again. However Natalie’s reaction to not seeing her new friend again is negative and she no longer communicates with anyone. Moose agrees to take her back, but only if he stays with her.  Moose can tell that his sister has made progress, and he comes to understand how badly his mother wants her to attend a school.

Moose takes it upon himself to ask the warren for help, but that seems to have a quick rejection. Moose then decides to write a letter to the famous prisoner Al Capone, and explains his situation and asks him for help. Not long later Moose and his family learn that the Esther P. Marinoff School has created a program that fits Natalie’s needs and that they will help her. Moose can’t help but think of Mr. Al Capone.

I did like this book! I did enjoy many aspects of it. I loved the fact that the author included a character with special needs; I thought that this aspect of the story allowed some of the readers to connect with the book more. I do love the history of Alcatraz. I have always been a lover of history and enjoyed seeing a historical fiction book for younger children! 

I think that students will really enjoy this book, especially if they have a love for history. I think that students can learn so much more by reading a book such as this and reading this genre of history compared to a dry text book. This way the readers can be more connected to the history by having a connection with the characters that are involved. I personally think that this book will be good from ages ranging from 10 and up. I would love to see teachers utilizing this book and incorporating it into a lesson rather than just having their students reading from a text book.

Image result for al capone does my shirts  Al Capone Does My Shirts
                                                 By: Gennifer Choldenko

This Book is about Moose Flanagan and his family who move to Alcatraz, a tiny island off the coast of San Francisco that houses some of the country's most dangerous criminals. Moose is less than thrilled about being away from home, stuck on a cement rock where most of the population is behind bars.  He is even less thrilled when he has to look after his sister Natalie who has autism but at that time autism is unknown and the doctors cannot figure out what is wrong with her. Natalie was accepted into the Esther P. Marinoff School, which was supposed to help her, but unfortunately, she's was sent back home almost immediately because she's just not adjusting to the school.
Moose makes friends with other kids on the island, including Piper, the warden's daughter. Piper devises all sorts of crazy schemes to keep them occupied, most of which involve breaking Rule Number 1: Don't talk to or about the prisoners. Most of these schemes turn out to bad. Especially when Piper starts a criminal laundry service for the kids at school, but the kids lose interest really fast. About to lose his only friend at school, Moose starts hunting around outside the prison's rec center every day, hoping to find a stray baseball.
His search is a total failure, until he finds out Natalie's been making friends with one of the cons. This con has been hanging around long enough to know what Moose is looking for, so he gives the him a ball. Suddenly, it doesn't seem like such a prized possession to Moose.
He is super scared for his sister, and his exploring quickly comes to an end. This kind of backfires, though, since it turns out that being out and about has helped Natalie adapt to the world around her. Out of ideas on how to help her, Moose's family applies to the Esther P. Marinoff School again, but are rejected, due to the fact that Natalie is 16 years old and the cut off age fora patience to be accepted is 12.
Moose asks the Warden to help get Natalie into the school. The warden says no and makes it very clear he will not help. Moose who is desperate to get his sister in makes a risky move. Moose decides to take matters into his own hands and writes a letter to Al Capone (the infamous gangster at Alcatraz) asking him to use his connections to help his sister get into school. Within days, Natalie is accepted into the Esther P. Marinoff School.
I had a hard time connecting to this book and I feel it is because I have nothing to relate this book to me. The book had a very interesting plot and I even read the Author’s Notes in the back of book and I like how the author went into detail about what was true in the book and also gave some facts about Alcatraz. Plus, she went into detail about Natalie and gave some information on autism. I would recremend this book to students who have siblings with autism or students who want an idea about what it was like to live on Alcatraz Island and who are around the age of 12. I would say this book is for 3rd to 7th graders. 
-Morgan S. 

Al Capone Does My Shirts By Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does my Shirt By Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirt is a very interesting book, to say the least. The book's genre is History fiction. It takes place on Alcatraz island located in San Francisco, California. I would say that the books topic or subject is about overcoming obstacles, and solving problems.
 This book is about a family whole actually moves to the island during the great depression. The reason for moving their is because the dad is taking a new job as the islands electrician. The family consist of the dad (Cam), the son (Moose), the older sister (natalie ), and the mom (Helen). Natalie has autism, so the plan is to get her admitted into the nearby school that specializes in special needs students. Natalie actually gets into the school, but only for a short amount of time. The school thought she wasn't ready and needs to work on her social skills more. Time went on a they tried to get Natalie in a second time but they were denied. Moose decides to take his matter into his own hands. With his new friend(Piper) , who is the warden's daughter, get into the prison and made a little extra cash by having the prisoners wash the classes clothes. During that time Piper and Moose wrote a note to Al Capone asking to help them get Natalie into the school. A week or so goes by and the family got a call saying that Natalie got excepted into the school's brand new division, where she would be the very first student. The whole family was excited for Natalie. The next day, when Moose was doing laundry, he felt a crinkle in the sleeve of a shirt. In the sleeve was a note that just said “done”, at that moment Moose knew that it worked! Al Capone got his sister into school!!
In my opinion, this book started off really slow and boring, but as I kept reading I  started getting more interested in all the characters and the overall message of the story. If i had to recommend this book to an age group it would probably be 5th and 6th graders.

-Logan Milligan


Al Capone Does My Shirts is a humorous yet touching book altered for older children. The story follows Moose, a young man who has moved here and there due to his sister Natalie's issues. Natalie isn't dumb, she is just different than the rest and needs special help. This time, Moose's mom dragged them all the way to Alcatraz, also known as the prison for the worst criminals ever. People such as rapists and murderers all live on the island. Moose's dad also got a job there as an electrician at the jail so it looks like Moose and his family will be staying for quite some time.

Within a few days, Moose meets the warden's daughter Piper. Right away, Moose doesn't like Piper as she repeatedly questions Natalie's condition. however, as the days go on, Moose warms up to Piper. Since the two kids live on an island with the worst criminals, guess who is one of the inmates? Al Capone! Piper, being smart and idealistic as she is, comes up with a plan to gain a little extra money; have classmates pay a nickel for their laundry to get done by the ever so famous Al Capone. Moose isn't sure about this plan but the extra money does sound appealing. As the story goes on, find out what Moose and his friends do about Piper's idea and how he finds the importance of fighting for family.

I absolutely loved this book. It perfectly balanced humor and seriousness. I loved the amount of comic relief that was used throughout the novel. It made it a little easier to hold the tears and soft emotions. I would recommend this novel for students fifth grade and up. First of all, the readers have to be at the chapter book level. Secondly, the dialogue is for a more mature audience. 


Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko is a winning author of the Newbery Honor. This chapter book is about Moose Flanagan and his family moving to Alcatraz. Alcatraz is a tiny island off the coast of San Francisco that has a handful of many dangerous criminals. They moved to this island because his father got a job as an electrician and a guard at the prison. Moose’s sister Natalie is his older sister that needs constant supervision. She got dismissed from her school, Esther P. Marinoff school. She was not welcomed back because she wasn’t adjusting well. Since she wasn’t going to school, Moose was now in charge of watching her on this island that is full of bad scheming. Moose isn’t having trouble making friends and one of his friends is the warden’s daughter, Piper. Piper is good at scheming, just like the criminals on Alcatraz. Moose starts to follow Piper’s scheming and they aren’t turning out like they planned. While Moose is out trying to scheme, the thought of his sister being harmed is in the back of his head. He comes up with a great idea, and that idea is to write a letter to Al Capone. He writes this letter to see if his connections can allow his sister to get back into Esther P. Marinoff.

I would recommend this book for 5th-8th graders. This is considered one of the easier chapter books to me. I think that the book could have been shorter and the point would have still gotten across. This story relates to a lot of kids in our society with having one of their parents getting a new job and now the whole family has to move to a new setting just like Moose’s family had to do. When we first were assigned to read Al Capone Does My Shirts, I was unsure of what the title meant. Overall it was a well written book and I would recommend it to a fifth grade classroom.

-Erin L