On my way to Alcatraz

Al Capone Does My ShirtsAl Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Many of my students loved this book last year. It had been on my TBR pile all summer. I am headed to San Francisco this week so it was calling to me. I try to travel to the Bay area about once a year to visit family. I have done the tourist trip to Alcatraz and felt its strange power and isolation.
This story is billed as an historical fiction and it is set in 1935. But I really felt like it was more about the island itself than the time period. Also in spite of the title, Al Capone plays a very peripheral part in the story.
That being said, it was a very nice story. The theme was really about a brother’s love for his autistic sister. Obviously in 1935 they didn’t know it to be autisim but the struggle of this family is timeless.
The cast of kids in this book are easily relatable to the middle grade reader and I am sure that is why my students liked the book. It was a nice read and could be a good kick-off into further inquiries. I would like to use this in conjunction with the historical fiction Black Duck by Janet Lisle. A historical fiction and mystery about bootleggers and smuggling.

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