Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

In this fast-paced sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts, Moose Flanagan realizes he now must pay back the favor he asked of America’s number one incarcerated gangster. Uh-oh!

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The danger factor really amps up in this one when a prison bar spreader is smuggled onto Alcatraz and several life-threatening moments occur in which children are in very real peril. The fact that Moose can’t explain what he is involved in to any of the adults because his sort-of girlfriend got his father put on probation with the warden (did you follow that?) complicates the plot. Then the Alcatraz kids get caught up in a prison escape plan and I almost felt this one was too intense for children! Scary fun!

I love that Choldenko brings an interesting perspective to this unusual story while still maintaining historical accuracy (her notes and interviews with actual Alcatraz children are included in the back). It does seem a bit anachronistic to depict a kid with autism in the 1930s, but she handles this sensitively, never actual naming Natalie’s disorder (since it was not identified at that time). I’d certainly recommend this one and wish my library had an ebook copy of the third novel in this series!

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