Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There's my sister, Natalie, except she doesn't count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards or cook's or doctors or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don't want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you're me. I came here because my mother said I had to.
I started this book with my 5th grade reading group. Unfortunately we were unable to finish it before the end of the school year, but I enjoyed it so much that I brought home a copy to finish over the summer.
This was a wonderful book that gives us not only a history lesson (none of my kids in the group had heard of Al Capone before and few had heard of Alcatraz so we were able to do a wonderful history lesson prior to starting this book) but some fantastic insight into autism and how it affects families.
While this book uses Al Capone as a draw it is really about how Moose deals with the frustration of having a sister who is different than other kids. Since this book is set in the 1930's and autism had not yet become a common diagnosis we are able to explore life with Natalie without the label of autism.
I would suggest this read for higher level 5th grade and above.
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