A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parent need to know that Al Capone Shines My Shoes is an engaging sequel to Gennifer Choldenko's Newbery Honor-winning Al Capone Does My Shirts, about seventh grader Moose Flanagan and his family, who live on Alcatraz Island along with other families working for the famous prison during the Great Depression. The young characters are faced with many situations where they must choose right from wrong, but the choices are not all that clear. The older kids start to see differences between boys and girls as well as the effect of crushes on how boys and girls behave. There's some kissing, and some good insight and frank boy-talk about girls' looks, which ultimately hurts some feelings. Like the first book in the trilogy, the plot involves main character Moose's autistic sister.
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What's the story?
Set on Alcatraz in 1935, AL CAPONE SHINES MY SHOES, takes place where the first book in the trilogy, Al Capone Does My Shirts, left off. Al Capone has pulled strings to get Moose's autistic sister into a special school. Now Moose has to pay back the famous gangster for the favor. Moose continues to navigate the roads of friendships and girls while trying to be true to his family. The backdrop of the famous prison and gangsters make for an intriguing setting. Although the families do not interact with the harden criminals, the kids do have interactions with "pass-men" -- well-behaved convicts who do work for the families. This leads to excitement as well as danger for Moose and his friends.
Is it any good?
Author Gennifer Choldenko has hit a perfect balance with this coming-of-age story set against the historical backdrop of the famous prison with its infamous inmates. Moose's involvement with Al Capone deepens as he now must pay him back for a favor. This and other interactions with "pass-men" keep tensions high and make for an exciting read. A daring escape attempt will keep readers turning the pages. Moose and the other characters are likeable and well drawn.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how girls' looks are perceived by boys. Scout categorizes all girls as either "lookers," "okey-dokeys," or "aunties." How does the way boys view girls affect how girls think of themselves and their body image?
How do you think Al Capone Shines My Shoes compares with the first book in the trilogy?
Have you ever been attracted to someone you don't like? What can you do about those feelings? Our article "Kids and Crushes, Idols, and Obsessions" can give parents ideas for discussion with their kids.
- Author: Gennifer Choldenko
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Dial Books
- Publication date: September 3, 2009
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 274
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 26, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love history and coming-of-age novels
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