Summary and book reviews of Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Shines My Shoes

By Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Shines My Shoes
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2009,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2011,
    288 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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About this Book

Book Summary

Moose and the cons are about to get a lot closer in this much-anticipated sequel.

It’s 1935. Moose Flanagan lives on Alcatraz with his family, the other families of the guards, and a few hundred no-name hit men, con men, mad dog murderers and a handful of bank robbers too. And one of those cons has just done him a big favor.

You see, Moose has never met Al Capone, but a few weeks ago Moose wrote a letter to him asking him to use his influence to get his sister, Natalie, into a school she desperately needs in San Francisco. After Natalie got accepted, a note appeared in Moose’s freshly laundered shirt that said: Done.

As this book begins, Moose discovers a new note. This one says: Your turn. Is it really from Capone? What does it mean? Moose can’t risk anything that might get his dad fired. But how can he ignore Al Capone?

1. THE CREAM OF THE CRIMINAL CROP

Monday, August 5, 1935

Nothing is the way it’s supposed to be when you live on an island with a billion birds, a ton of bird crap, a few dozen rifles, machine guns, and automatics, and 278 of America’s worst criminals—“the cream of the criminal crop” as one of our felons likes to say. The convicts on Alcatraz are rotten to the core, crazy in the head, and as slippery as eels in axle grease.

And then there’s me. Moose Flanagan. I live on Alcatraz along with twenty-four other kids and one more on the way. My father works as a prison guard and an electrician in the cell house up top. I live where most of us “civilians” do, in 64 building, which is dockside on the east side of Alcatraz—a base hit from the mobster Al Capone.

Not many twelve-year-old boys can say that. Not many kids can say that when their toilet is stopped up, they get Seven Fingers, the ax murderer...

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Reviews

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Al Capone Shines My Shoes is the sequel to Choldenko's celebrated Al Capone Does My Shirts. Twelve-year old Moose Flanagan continues his account of life on the Rock and the conflicts and crises that beset the isolated community of cons, guards, mothers and kids who call it home. Moose's voice - so true, so funny, so boyish, so irreverent - will make you want to stand up and applaud Choldenko's bravura encore... The plot carries the reader along and provides genuine suspense, but the novel's greatest achievement is the creation of the inner worlds of its characters: all complicated, turbulent, alive, surprising, sweet and deep.   (Reviewed by Jo Perry).

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Media Reviews
The Christian Science Monitor

Although “Al Capone Shines My Shoes” is a fast-paced adventure story, the subtle underlying messages are worth hearing... a very exciting, can’t-wait-to-see-what-happens-next story. Kids and their grown-ups are going to love this one.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer

... the cast of characters brims with life. Moose's pure-boy voice is wonderful, and the historically accurate details fascinate.

Horn Book

Choldenko delivers a crowd-pleasing sequel to her Newbery Honor-winning Al Capone Does My Shirts.

Booklist

An enjoyable, stand-alone sequel.

Publishers Weekly

It takes....100 pages for the tension to ratchet up, but fans of the first book will enjoy getting reacquainted.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Choldenko hits a grand slam...Effortless period dialogue, fully developed secondary characters and a perfectly paced plot combine to create a solid-gold sequel that will not disappoint. Ages 10+.

School Library Journal

This is superlative historical fiction, but it will be most appreciated by those familiar with the first book.

Reader Reviews
Rose

Awesome!
I thought this book was very good. I think you would have to have read the first book if you would like to read this one. One thing happened after another which made the book suspenseful. I give the book an A! :.D

C.White

Excellent job Ms. Choldenko!
I used this book as a novel study for my class and they absolutely loved it! Unbelievably, when I told my students there homework was to read chapters 6 - 10 all students came back reading more than I expected! Even the ones who don't usually do ...   Read More

SchoolGirl

I NEED HELP!!!!
Can some one please tell me how the problem with Moose owing Capone was solved. Thanks so much, please help.

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Beyond the Book

Alcatraz and Al Capone
Alcatraz, the setting of Choldenko's novel, is as vivid and interesting as her characters. She got to know its layout, the way the sun looks on the sea around it, its birds and its weather while working there for a year as a docent.

Most famous as the site of a federal prison, Alcatraz Island was first a military fortress, home to the first lighthouse on the Pacific Coast in the mid 1850's, and a military prison for prisoners of the Civil and Spanish American Wars. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, hundreds of civilian prisoners were transferred to Alcatraz. By the 1920's the three-story prison was nearly at full capacity. Ownership shifted from the Army to the Department of Justice in 1934, and work ...

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