Written by Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts tells the story of Moose Flanagan and his family who move to Alcatraz Island where his father has gotten a job. The year is 1935, and Alcatraz is a federal prison housing the meanest criminals. The move comes in the middle of the school year because Moose’s autistic sister Natalie has been accepted in a special school, the Esther P. Marinoff School. Dad has a job as a guard/electrician on Alcatraz, and Mom is going to teach piano lessons in San Francisco.
Moose makes friends with a boy named Scout in school. Scout’s friends play baseball on Mondays. During Moose’s first game, he makes a double play. He feels he can make friends and belong in his new home. Natalie gets kicked out of the school after less than 24 hours. This means that Moose must be her caregiver in the afternoons after school – no more baseball games for Moose.
Soon, Moose makes friends with the other kids living on Alcatraz. Piper, the warden’s daughter, loves trouble. She comes up with a scheme to earn money by telling all the kids in seventh grade that they can have their clothes laundered by Al Capone for pennies, nickels, and dimes. She gets Moose to talk up the scheme at school to drum up more business. The warden gets a letter from an angry parent about the scheme. The kids get into trouble with the warden. Even Moose finds himself in trouble.
After the laundry scheme, Moose spends all his time with Natalie, but he wants to get Scout back as a friend. To do this, Moose spends hours every afternoon hunting for a convict baseball that may have been hit over the fence. Will he get into more trouble by being around convicts?
Your students will love reading this fantastic book!
Bump Games (Context Clues and Figurative Language)
These two Bump Games cover important reading skills: using context clues and figurative language. The sentences used to practice these skills are lines from the novel. Both full color and black-lined versions are provided in this print-and-go activity. Use games in small groups for a fun interactive activity.
You can download the free printable here.
Free Samples from Al Capone Does My Shirts Book Unit
If you would like to try out the book unit before you buy it, this download contains the following free samples:
- Vocabulary Practice for Chapter 1-2
- Comprehension Questions for Chapters 1-2
- Constructed Response Question – Setting
- Photos to Show What the Rest of the Unit Looks Like
Al Capone Does My Shirts Book Unit
Al Capone Does My Shirts Book Unit contains graphic organizers for an interactive notebook and game activities covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, constructed response writing, and skill practice.