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

Common Sense says

Boy stands up for autistic sister in compassionate tale.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 51 reviews
Parent of a 6 and 12 year old Written byStephanie B. March 20, 2017

sexual themes throughout

There are many reviews that say this book is appropriate for young children. Be aware that this book will introduces the term "rapist" within the first few pages. Within the first few chapters, readers will need to know why a warden tells a 12 year old boy that females need to be accompanied by guards at all times and are not to wear shorts because convicts are present who haven’t seen a woman in 10-15 years. The warden then says to the 12 year-old boy, “you are old enough to understand what that means, Mr. Flanagan.” Be prepared for your child to ask what that means if they have not been exposed to this type of dialogue or subject matter. Later in the book, there are several pages devoted to the brother being extremely worried that his autistic sister may have been taken advantage of by an inmate. This is a central to the progress of the story. The word, “sex” is not used, but it is implied. This implication is further supported later in the story when another girl teases the brother that the autistic sister may have gotten pregnant by the inmate. Be aware that the book has sexual themes that are non-consensual, potentially violent, and possibly pedofeliac in nature. It is too bad that the author found it necessary to move the story along in this manner - otherwise the book could have been of great educational value. As it is - protect your young child from exposure, or at least be forewarned.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byMemee April 9, 2008

I hated it

This book is nothing but trash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Adult Written byjbb123 February 10, 2016

Good Writing, Wrong Message

This book is really well written. However, the hint at rape and reference to sex, coupled with the ending that says, bullies get the job done were a turn off for me. The main character's handicapped sister gets into a school after its hinted that Al Cappone puts pressure on the school to accept the sister. Thought it was a bad message to give to the 10 year old crowd.
Adult Written byashleylynnlynn April 9, 2008


Fantastic book. For me, the topic for family discussion would be the treatment of Moose's sister, Natalie. Natalie is developmentally delayed and her illlness looks a lot like Autism. The family's whole life surrounds getting help for Natalie in a time where asylums seemed to be the most convenient solution. This could result in a great family discussion about the treatment of those with disabilities.
Adult Written bymoviemadness April 9, 2008

Good, funny book

This book is good and funny. The characters are smart, and the story is interesting. The surprising sexual themes make this book iffy for thise 10 and younger.
Parent of a 11 year old Written byhaeyoon July 11, 2010

Awsome book!

I enjoyed this book a lot. I couldn't put this book down until I finished it-- it was such a page-turner!. This book deals with a historical locus which caught both public and journalistic attention recently. The author cleverly evades the danger of being banal in its description of the place and rather renders the the story so vivid and interesting.

This title contains:

Educational Value
Adult Written byelliem1 November 16, 2014

very interesting

‘Al Capone Does My Shirts’ is a novel by author Gennifer Choldenko. In this novel, Moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatraz Island, where Moose's father has gotten a job as both electrician and prison guard for the prison situated on the island. Moose misses his friends back home and resents his mother for uprooting the family for another of her schemes to help his sister Natalie be normal. Almost immediately, Moose finds himself in trouble when the daughter of the warden, Piper, draws him into a scheme to make money off of the name of the most famous prisoner at Alcatraz, Al Capone. However, Moose soon learns he does not need Piper to find trouble. Al Capone Does My Shirts is a humorous novel that can also bring a tear to the reader's eye as Moose learns that family is worth fighting for

This title contains:

Educational Value
Adult Written byweter April 9, 2008
Adult Written byJWeldie June 19, 2018

NOT Appropriate for second, or even fourth graders

Based on reviews as great (funny) novel for young readers 2nd-8th grade, I got this book for my rising 3rd grader. He's a very strong reader, but we've always encouraged him to come to us with questions. A few minutes in he's asking what a rapist is. When he asks why women can't wear bathing suits, I told him it was time to find another book. That said, I read through it. The tale is entertaining and well written, but although the reading level is appropriate for elementary aged children, the content is definitely more appropriate for late middle school.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Adult Written byJasonlpres August 11, 2018

Page 1: Dad, what's a "rapist"?

When you are ready to explain rape, then the book will be appropriate for your child.
Parent of a 9 year old Written byMsChar September 14, 2018

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 contains:

Positive Messages