Friday, January 16, 2015

Review: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Synopsis: Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There's my sister, Natalie, except she doesn't count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook's or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don't want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you're me. I came here because my mother said I had to. (from the back of the book)

Review: I wasn't sure what to expect when I read this, other than it would be good, because it's a Newbery. Choldenko keeps her story as close to historically accurate as possible, and yet, still creates a story that pulls you in, head and heart. It was fascinating to read about the life on Alcatraz for the families of the guards. It was heartbreaking to read about Natalie, and life for someone with her challenges. Things in those days were so different for people with autism (a word they didn't even have back then). I highly recommend, both for personal reading and for use in a classroom or as a discussion with kids.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: Newbery Honor 2005

ISBN: 0-439-67432-8
Date Finished: 1-14-2015
Pages: 225

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