Al Capone Shines My Shoes Review

Al_Capone_Shines_My_ShoesAl Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009. 978-0803734609

Synopsis: When I first moved to Alcatraz, I thought all of the prisoners were on one side of the bars and everyone else was on the other. But lately, I’m not so sure. I mean, Darby Trixle’s been more on my case than usual because of Natalie and I got another note from Capone in my laundry. Turns out, since he helped Natalie get into that Esther P. Marinoff School, now I have to do a favor for him….

Why I picked it up: I wanted to know more about what happens with Moose, Natalie, Piper, and the rest of the residents of Alcatraz.

Why I finished it: Choldenko has masterfully created a story that is just as grounded in reality as it is in fiction. The sequel is just as engaging as its predecessor, and it continues to grow and develop the characters in such a way that it’s hard to believe they weren’t really residents on the island. In this tale, Moose is learning hard lessons about friendships when he tries to juggle a friendship with Jimmy and Scout, Piper and Annie, and Theresa and Natalie. He becomes so focused on trying to keep everyone happy that he is gradually destroying his own sanity in the process. Plus, he has to deal with the pressure of trying to return a favor for The Rock’s most notorious resident without completely feeling like he’s betrayed his family. Choldenko’s afterword sheds some light on the events of the book, debunking what was real and what wasn’t: the residents weren’t waiters when J. Edgar Hoover came to visit, but there was in fact an escape attempt called the Battle of Alcatraz in 1946. This book is just as packed with adventure and drama as the first and keeps the reader engaged from beginning to end. It’s a small slice of the real world served up with just the right amount of sugary narrative to satisfy the imagination.

Other related materials: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Chloldenko; Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko; Notes from a Liar and Her Dog by Gennifer Choldenko; No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko; If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko; Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead; Paperboy by Vince Vawter; Rules by Cynthia Lord; Alcatraz from Inside: The Hard Years 1942-1952 by Jim Quillen; Inside the Walls of Alcatraz by Frank Heaney and Gay Machado; Eyewitness on Alcatraz: Life on The Rock as Told by the Guards, Families, & Prisoners by Jolene Babyak

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