After the first book Al Capone Does My Shirts won a Newbery Honor, I figured I'd check out Gennifer Choldenko's sequel, Al Capone Shines My Shoes and see what all the rave reviews were about. Fortunately, all the hype surrounding the second book did not disappoint.
I haven't read the first book, so when I first heard the title Al Capone Shines My Shoes, I assumed it was a metaphor of some sort. Then as I started reading, I soon found out that the book does take place in the 1930s during the time of the gangster crime organization, known as the Chicago Outfit. Choldenko sets the book on Alcatraz, an infamous island prison facility which housed some of the most dangerous criminals of all time. Not only do criminals live on the island, but also prison guards and their families as well. This book is about a boy named Moose whose father is a prison guard, so the whole family lives on Alcatraz. Just the idea of living on an island full of America's most violent and aggressive criminals makes for an interesting story.
Choldenko goes beyond just telling about the criminals on the island. She also presents a depiction of the kids' inner feelings towards their friends, family, and own self reflection.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a quick and fun read. Though the dialogue mimics the fast-paced speak of a 1930s film, Choldenko describes the characters in such a precise and detailed way that it is easy to relate to the specific characters.
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
—Carly M., STACKS Staffer