Al Capone Does My Shirts
by Jennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts review:  Al Capone isn't your average neighbor, but when you live on Alcatraz, life is different. It's 1935 and 12- year-old Moose and his family have just moved to Alcatraz, where his dad just got a job. Now Moose has a new school and the warden's daughter to contend with. All he wants to do is protect his sister, stay out of trouble, and make his parents proud. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never far away.

Kids will love the mystery in this book, and the whole premise of living in this famous prison, not as a prisoner but as a kid who gets to see and even perhaps meet some of the world's most famous prisoners.

This book is highly recommended by virtually all who read it, BUT there are a few small parts that have made some adults unsure if this is a good fit for kids. You may need to explain what a "rapist" is (that word is in the book), and in one part a boy sees his sister naked.  There's not any more to the scene than that, but that situation does make some adults unsure about this book for kids.

"Choldenko's pacing is exquisite. . . . [A] great read." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)


Reading Level for Al Capone Does My Shirts:

Interest Level:  Gr. 5-8
DRA Level:  60
Lexile Measure:  600L
Grade Equivalent: 4.7
Guided Reading:  X

Awards and Honors for this book:

 * Newbery Honor 2005
 * National Council for Social Studies Notable Book 2005
 * American Library Association Notable Children's Book
 * American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults 2005
 * Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators Humor Award 2004


"Exceptionally atmospheric, fast-paced and memorable!" (Publishers Weekly, starred review). Choldenko’s pacing is exquisite.... A great read."(Kirkus Reviews, starred review) "The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers." (School Library Journal, starred review)


There are three available covers for this book. The middle one (with the hat) is the paperback version and is the same style as the sequel books (Al Capone Does My Homework and Al Capone Shines My Shoes).


Al Capone Does My Shirts Lesson/Activity Ideas:

If you are using this book in the classroom, you can get some discussion questions on the Scholastic website for free. To access it, click here: Al Capone Does My Shirts discussion questions


Where to now?

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