Thursday, January 21, 2010

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

Choldenko, Gennifer Al Capone Shines My Shoes 274 pgs. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009. Language-G (1"g" swear); Sexual Content-G; Violence-G. $17.99.
Moose Flanagan and his family live on Alcatraz island during the 1930s with some of the most dangerous criminals known to man. Following up from the previous book, Al Capone, notorious gangster who is in prison at Alcatraz, wants payback for helping Moose get his sister, Natalie, into a prestigious school for autistic children. As the criminals do all of the laundry for the island, Moose gets a note from Capone that simply states "your turn". Throughout the rest of the book Moose is looking over his shoulder for what will happen next. Through a series of events--some humorous, some chilling-- Moose learns that the line between good and bad is cleare than it seems. The author did a fabulous job of really endearing you to the different characters, and I found myself liking each one if a different way. Also, although this is a sequel to the book Al Capone Does My Shirts, the reader will still be able to understand what is going and the book can stand alone.
That said, I was really excited to read this book because I knew that the first book (Al Capone Does My Shirts) was a Newberry Honor winner. After reading it I felt a bit let down. It was not a gripper by any means, and I feel like I had to trudge my way through it. I feel like there was a lot of build up in a lot of different spots and then nothing would happen so I felt let down again and again. I felt like the ending was the only time there was a real, satisfying resolution to all of the climax that had been going on. At any rate, there were enjoyable parts, and it was a very interesting book about the history and life of Alcatraz in the 1930s. EL/MS-ADVISABLE. Whitney, Library-Teacher.

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