Book Review #32: Al Capone Does My Shirts

Title: Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz

Author: Gennifer Choldenko     Publisher: Puffin Books

These guys are not your average neighbors. It’s 1935, and 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family have just moved to Alcatraz, the infamous island that’s been home to criminals such as notorious escapee Roy Gardener, Machine Gun Kelly, and of course, Al Capone. Moose doesn’t actually get to meet the cons; but he does meet Piper Williams, the warden’s daughter, who comes up with so many schemes she might as well be a criminal!

Now Moose has to try to fit into his new school, avoid getting caught up in Piper’s countless plots, and keep an eye on his sister, Natalie, who’s not like other kids. All Moose wants to do is stay out of trouble. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away. (from the back of the book, not my writing)

I would say that this is worth the read, but is not absolutely amazing. My final ratings are at the end of this post, so you can just close you eyes and scroll down if you don’t want spoilers.

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  • I love how Choldenko incorporated a character with autism in her book. A lot of author’s don’t do this lately, which makes her work so unique. Most books WITH a character who does have autism, down syndrome, or any other learning disability take place in modern times. I think it’s good for kids to know a little bit about what it’s like to live with autism at a time when it wasn’t even diagnosed.
  • Piper added lots of thrill and sass to the novel that couldn’t be topped. The troublemaker does make it a hassle for her friends but knows how to make everything exciting.
  • I loved how much Moose cared for Natalie, even though he had to sacrifice small things for himself quite often. It really gives a good message to the reader about sibling love and that sometimes you have to give things up to help others.
  • I loved the writing style! With short chapters, charming characters, and fast pacing, this book is one to remember!


  • I didn’t like the Warden. I felt like he was always blaming Moose for things that the other kids did and ignored him when he explained himself.  I know we’re from completely different eras, but still! I suppose it is good that he is strict-Alcatraz needs somebody to deal with those criminals!
  • Onion 115. I think his “relationship” with Natalie is inappropriate for the book’s audience. It did share the message to be aware of your surroundings, other than that, it wasn’t nessicary.

Favorite Part

My favorite part was when Piper cooked up the laundry scheme! I love how Gennifer Choldenko interpreted what it would be like if a laundry scheme were to take place on Alcatraz. The whole idea is really interesting (see interviews in the back of the book, they’re very educational). It was also very funny too.

“Okay,” Piper says, “and I just wanted to explain something else too. Helping me with the laundry is against the warden’s rules.”

Here it comes. “Oh really,” I say.

“You bet,” she says. 

“Alright. Lets ask your Dad if its OK,” I say.

“Do you ask permission to put your underwear on every morning?”  (Excerpt from Pages 72-73.)

Classic Piper! She’s got sass… (I finally figured out how to insert a GIF 😂)

Favorite Character

My favorite character was Theresa. She is always so kind and patient with Natalie whereas many others discriminated against her due to her disability.  It makes you wonder what it actually would have been like to live at a time when autism wasn’t even diagnosed. Compare it to now, where we as humans are so much more evolved in everything. Scientists can now classify lots of other things and help make their and their families lives better!

I think Theresa is a great role model for the reader. Being kind with everybody no matter what is a true gift and a lovely personality trait!

Final Ratings

Enjoyment: 🍩 Donut (41/50)

Educational Value/Life Lesson: 🍩 Donut (42/50)

Characters: 🍩 Donut (45/50)

Plot: 🍩 Donut (43/50)

Writing Style:  🍦Ice Cream (48/50)

Pacing: 🍦 (46/50)


I think that this was in general a great book that I enjoyed, had a good life lesson, well-developed characters, perfect pacing, and awesome writing style. 

Thank you for reading this post. If you haven’t already, please subscribe so you can become a citizen of the Tweendom Kingdom! Comment down below to tell me your favorite part and character. Do you think my ratings are fair?

-Katie K




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