Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko Review

Alcatraz Island in the 1930s isn't the most normal place to grow up, but it's home for Moose Flanagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and all the families of the guards. When Moose's dad gets promoted to Associate Warden, despite being an unlikely candidate, it's a big deal. But the cons have a point system for targeting prison employees, and his dad is now in serious danger. After a fire starts in the Flanagan's apartment, Natalie is blamed, and Moose bands with the other kids to track down the possible arsonist. Then Moose gets a cryptic note from the notorious Al Capone himself. Is Capone trying to protect Moose's dad too? If Moose can't figure out what Capone's note means, it may be too late.

The last heart-pounding installment in the New York Times bestselling, Newbery Honor-winning Alcatraz trilogy is not to be missed!

"Superlative historical fiction." ―School Library Journal 

Al Capone Does My Homework is the third and last book in the Alcatraz trilogy written by Gennifer Choldenko. The other two are Al Capone Does My Shirts, and Al Capone Shines My Shoes.

Moose and Nat are brother and sister. They live on Alcatraz with their dad, who is the Associate Warden. There are 4 more kids on the island: Piper, Annie, Jimmy and Theresa. On the first day of their dad's promotion to Associate Warden, something terrible happens and they have to move to a new place on Alcatraz. Because of this incident, Nat's school thinks that Nat has become a hazard and puts her on probation. She will not be allowed back into school until the authorities have uncovered the cause of the incident. After several encounters with other people on the island, Moose and Nat start to become suspicious of one of the other people on the island. This leads them to believe that they know the cause of the incident and who is responsible. Moose and Nat and the other kids on Alcatraz have a mystery to solve. Finding out who is responsible for the incident is the only way to get Nat back into school.

What caught my attention in the book was the descriptions of the criminals that are imprisoned at Alcatraz. Inmates with names like Seven Fingers, Buddy, Boy, Willie One Arm and Scarface, aka Al Capone, make the book funny and give the inmates lots of character. I also enjoyed the interlinking plots which made for a twisted and tangled read but didn't confuse me. The descriptive writing painted some really good imagery in my head and gave me the sense that I was really on Alcatraz! I would recommend this book to kids who like a good mystery.

You can purchase Al Capone Does My Homework at the following Retailers:

Photo Content from Gennifer Choldenko

Gennifer Choldenko was born in Santa Monica, California in 1957. She was the youngest child in a large loud family. Her nickname as a kid was “Snot-Nose”. Gennifer spent most of her time on the back of a horse, exploring the craggy hills of Southern California. No Passengers Beyond this Point, published by Bloomsbury in May 2011, tells the story of a journey that takes a surprising twist.

After college, Gennifer got a job as a copywriter in a small ad agency. In the evenings, she took classes at Art Center Art College of Design in illustration. This eventually led to a full-time study of illustration at Art Center and Rhode Island School of Design. After RISD, she began to pursue children’s books with a vengeance. It has taken her a long time to learn her craft and find her way in the field of children’s books. After having a lot of success in advertising, it was very clear to Gennifer that she’d rather be a failure in a field she loved than a success in a field she hated. Luckily, she is blessed with a rock hard head and an amazingly supportive husband. Gennifer is married to Jacob and has two children, Ian and Kai, she lives in Tiburon, California with her family and dog Lucy. Whilst writing Notes from a Liar and her Dog she volunteered at Oakland Zoo, doing various tasks from washing the snakes windows to giving water to the tiger.

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