Next-Gen

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

by jhoertel
Last updated 3 years ago

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Discipline:
Language Arts
Subject:
Literature
Grade:
4,5,6,7

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Unless you live on Alcatraz. It's 1935 and 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family have just moved to the infamous island that's home to criminals like notorious escapee Roy Gardner, Machine Gun Kelly, and of course, Al Capone. Now Moose has to try to fit in at his new school, avoid getting caught up in one of the warden's daughter's countless plots, and keep an eye onhis sister Natalie, who's not like otherkids. All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents' expectations, and stay out of trouble. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.

these guys are not your average neighbors.

Murderers, mob bosses, and convicts . . .

Setting

Alcatraz Island, off the coast of San Francisco 1935

FACTS & FIGURES

Nicknamed Moose by his sister, the story is told in first person from his perspective. He has just moved to the island because of his father's job and has a hard time adjusting and making friends. He loves baseball and is very good at it. As Natalie’s only sibling, he has the responsibility for taking care of herwhen his parents work. He attends school in San Francisco with Piper. QUOTE: “I want to be here like I want poison oak on my private parts. But apparently nobody cares, because now I’m Moose Flanagan, Alcatraz Island Boy—all so my sister can go to the Esther P. Marinoff School, where kids have macaroni salad in their hair and wear their clothes inside out and there isn’t a chalkboard or a book in sight” (p3-4).

The same age as Moose, Annie attends a different school in San Fransisco. She loves reading and school, but is also a great baseball player. She usually tags along with what Piper wants to do just to make things easier, but has been known to stand up for herself, too. An only child, her mother brings her along to church.

Another 7th grader living on the island, Jimmy loves to invent and build, especially his marble launcher. He gets frustrated by his little sister, Theresa, especially when she tells stories about her baby brother. He's not really very good at baseball or sports, but he'll play if Moose asks.

A young, talkative girl who lives on the island with her family, she shows Moose and Natalie around the island on their first day. Theresa has cards on the famous convicts on the island with basic information and is in charge of checking the morgue. She is seven years old, but isn’t interested in others her age, so she always tries to hand out with the older group. Theresa is also very interested in her new baby brother, Rocky. She and Natalie become good friends. QUOTE: Theresa claps her hands, then digs in her pocket for a card folded in fours. “I made this for you. Annie did the words. I made the map all by myself!”

Moose’s sister. At the beginning, readers find out that Natalie’s mom tells everyone she is “ten”, but that she has been that age for years. Natalie likes to play with buttons, loves lemon cake, and has impressive math & memory skills. She sometimes has problems when her routine is different and doesn’t react appropriately to normal social situations. Her parents are trying to get her into the Esther P. Marinoff school, which helps students with disabilities. QUOTE: (Natalie) “Moose and Natalie go on a train. Moose and Natalie eat meat loaf sandwich. Moose and Natalie look out the window.” (Moose) “Yeah, we did all that. And now we’re here with some swell fellows like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly.” (Natalie) “Natalie Flanagan’s whole family.” (p4)

Piper is the warden’s daughter who is always coming up with schemes. Because of her father, she gets away with breaking a lot of rooms, including talking to others about the convicts and living on the island. Considered a “looker” by Moose, Piper is very bossy and trues to run the group. She is the same age as Moose and they attend school together. QUOTE: She rubs her hands together. “We’re in business. All you need to do is talk about Alcatraz. Get people in the right mood. You’ll talk up the place, kind of like the warm-up, and I’ll tell a few people, then let the word spread. You must know some amazing stories,” she says as the boat motor grinds beneath our feet.

Natalie Flanagan

Matthew "Moose" Flanagan

Annie Bomini

Jimmy Mattaman

Excerpt

Theresa Mattaman

Piper Williams


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