From the Publisher
Set in 1935 I want to be on Alcatraz 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 wear their clothes inside out and there isn’t a book in sight. Obedient Moose. I always do what I’m supposed to do.
When Moose’s family moves to Alcatraz Island so his father can work as a guard and his sister can attend a special school in San Francisco, he has to leave his friends behind. But it’s worth it, right? If his sister, Natalie, can get help, maybe his family will finally be normal.
But on Alcatraz his dad is so busy, he’s never around. His mom’s preoccupation with Natalie’s condition (today, it would be called autism) is even worse now that there’s no extended family to help. And of course, there’s never enough money.
When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the warden, he knows right off she’s trouble. But she’s also strangely irresistible. 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.
The Washington Post
Natalie’s story is an important thread, sensitively handled. But what stays in the mind is the teeming mini-society of the island, where guards’ families really did live and where a kid really might have encountered Al Capone, an inmate at Alcatraz from 1934 to 1939. – Elizabeth Ward
In our Best Books citation, PW said of this tale set in 1935, ‘Choldenko captures the tense, nuanced family dynamics touched off by the narrator’s sister’s disability as skillfully as she handles the mystique of Alcatraz.’ Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Della A. Yannuzzi – Children’s Literature
Author Choldenko has written a funny and clever middle grade novel about a boy named Matthew (Moose) Flanagan who is living on Alcatraz Island with his family. The family has moved to the Island because Moose’s father has found work as an electrician, and because his sister Natalie, who is autistic, can go to a good school nearby. Moose is not happy about living on the island, especially after meeting the Warden’s daughter Piper who is bossy and a bit of a troublemaker. Moose’s father has warned him to stay out of trouble because he needs this job and Natalie needs to go to the special school. Moose’s life becomes miserable when Piper involves him and a few other island kids in a moneymaking scheme to have their schoolmates’ clothes laundered by the convicts on Alcatraz Island. Piper tempts her school chums by claiming that Al Capone, the famous gangster, may even wash their shirts. The scheme falls apart when the Warden finds out what his daughter and friends are up to. Then, to make matters worse, the school that Natalie attends doesn’t want her and she has to come home. Moose winds up watching her and has to forego his Monday after-school baseball game. This is an amusing book about interesting characters placed in a different and unlikely setting and trying to make the best of their situation. 2004, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Ages 10 up.
Walter Hogan – VOYA
In 1935, notorious gangster Al Capone is one of three hundred convicts housed in the maximum-security penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. Twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan also lives on the island. His father has taken a position as an electrician and guard at the prison in hopes that Moose’s sister, Natalie, will be accepted at a special school in nearby San Francisco. Not only has Moose been forced to leave friends behind and move with his family to a fortress island, but he also cannot play baseball or make new friends now because he is stuck taking care of his sister whenever he is not in school. Natalie is afflicted with the condition now known as autism, and even at age sixteen, she cannot be left unsupervised. Everyone in the family has been under a strain becau