Parents' Guide to

Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz, Book 1

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Boy stands up for sister with autism in compassionate tale.

Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 10+

Wonderful for teaching social citizenship!

We found this book interesting because it brings to light the challenges that are met in a family who is living with a loved who has autism. It also shows that despite the complications and drama in family life, that love conquers all and that you would do anything to help your family. Definitely a good discussion point to bring at a table and talk about people with special needs. Might want to wait to introduce this to older children as it has some sexual overtones. We are not quite sure what happened to Natalie when she was alone with the convict.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 9+

Great Insight into Living with a Sibling with a Disability

This book is written in the voice of a 7th grade boy in the 1930's who happens to live on Alcatraz Island because his father works there. In addition, he has an older sister with autism. His mother is obsessed with getting help for her daughter and asks her son to shoulder some of the responsibility for her care. It is a realistic look at how a child copes with living with a sibling with special needs. Leads to great conversations for children living in that circumstance.

This title has:

Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7):
Kids say (35):

AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS shines when it grapples with Moose's family on Alcatraz. His parents want to do the right thing but repeatedly fail their son. It's easy to empathize with Moose, who both loves and resents his sister and fears upsetting his desperate mother. The historical setting is enticing and a good symbol for Moose’s own feelings of entrapment.

Readers may wish that the author spent more ink digging into Natalie's relationship with a convict, or exploring the book's mature themes, such as the good and bad in people, or why gangsters are sometimes seen as heroes. But they'll cheer when Moose finally stands up for himself, his sister, and his family, making his mother realize that the ends don't justify the means. Complex moral issues and some sexual overtones push this book toward an older tween audience.

Book Details

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