Review: Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko

al capone does my homework

Al Capone Does My Homework by Gennifer Choldenko

Released August 20, 2013

This is the third and final book in the Alcatraz trilogy.  Moose is growing up on Alcatraz where his father has just been made Assistant Warden.  But with the promotion also comes dangers that he had not faced as a guard.  Moose quickly discovers that the inmates have a point system where his father is now worth a lot more points if he is attacked.  Moose has far more to worry about though, when there is a fire in their family apartment.  Moose feels very guilty because he had been watching his sister Natalie who is autistic, but he fell asleep.  Others are all too quick to blame Natalie for setting the fire, though Moose and his family don’t see her doing something like that.  Now Moose feels that he has to solve the mystery of the fire as well as protect his father as best he can, but there may be more mysteries along to solve, one that is even hinted at by a note from Capone himself!

I have loved this series from the first book.  The historical perspective of a family living on Alcatraz is tantalizing.  Yet it is Choldenko’s skill in creating characters who are immensely human and wonderfully heartfelt that makes this series so good.  Moose is a character who grows from one book to the next and within each book as well.  The growth is strong and believable.  The mystery here fits nicely in the historical setting and one finds out from the Author’s Note that the reason it is so credible is that Choldenko based much of it on real events of the time.

This series has been strong from the first book, never suffering from lagging in the middle book or from the final book trying to do too much.  Nicely, each book is individually satisfying as well, so they stand just as nicely on their own as they do in a trio.  However, I could never not find out what happened next to Moose and the other children on the island.

Satisfying and superbly written, this book is a great conclusion to a wonderful trilogy.  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books.

Barbara J. Robinson Dies

Barbara Robinson The Best Christmas Pageant Ever The Best School Year Ever

Barbara J. Robinson, author of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, has died at age 85 according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Author of 12 books for children, she had a wonderful ear for comedic timing, basing her books on the antics of the Herdman family. 

While continuing to write, Mrs. Robinson spent the latter part of her career visiting schools across the country, speaking to children and teachers about writing, and attending writers’ conferences.

"That was the favorite part, speaking with the children who were her readers," her daughter said. "She was delighted with their questions and comments, some of which were hilarious."

PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2013 PEN/Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing has been announced:

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery

The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Amanda Hall

I Lay My Stitches Down by Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Michele Wood

Oh, No! Nic Bishop Snakes Those Rebels, John and Tom

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Snakes by Nic Bishop

Those Rebels, John & Tom by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin