In the sequel to Gennifer Choldenko’s New York Time’s Bestseller, Al Capone Does My Shirts, (you can read my review here), Al Capone Shines My Shoes takes the book to a whole new and exciting level.
*If you haven’t read Al Capone Does My Shirts, then there may be spoilers in this review*
Now that Natalie Flannagan is safe and sound at the Esther P. Marinoff School, Moose can finally start to live a normal life, hanging out with his parents and friends without having to constantly worry about taking care of his autistic older sister. Just as Moose’s life seems to be on the verge of greatness, he finds a note in his laundered clothes from the most dangerous criminal, Al Capone. The cryptic message says only “your turn, then we’re square.” This single note soon sends Moose down a tailspin of events as he tries to deal with girls, friends , family and Al Capone.
As much as I loved the first book, this one is about 10x better. The characters are better developed, and the story line is much more exciting now that Moose is indebted to Al Capone, and along with the troublesome Piper, there is also Darby Trixle, whose main purpose is to make Moose’s life as cumbersome as possible. While this is still a book about youth living on Alcatraz Island during the 1930s, it is more of a book about friendship, honesty and trust. Moose goes through a lot of trouble in order to learn the tough lessons that being honest is the best away to avoid major problems. We do finally see a softer side of Piper, although I really don’t understand why Moose has such a crush on her. Moose’s devotion to keeping Natalie at the boarding school is of such high importance that he’ll go through anything to make sure she is safe and happy.
This book is ideal for the 5th to 8th grade range, covering history, politics, social commentary and most of the personal and emotional behaviors that children that age deal with regularly. The writing is witty, sharp and historically accurate, including historical trivia at the back (my favorite part!). If you loved Al Capone Does My Shirts, then this book should be next on your list.
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**********************************Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko Dial, 2009 274 pages