Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Al Capone Shines My Shoes

Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Alcatraz, book two)
By Gennifer Choldenko, read by Kirby Heyborne
Published 2009 by Listening Library

Moose never wanted to move to Alcatraz but his family didn't have a choice. After he maybe gets some help from Al Capone, Moose has even more to worry about. Plus, Jimmy's acting strange about Moose's friendship with Scout, Piper is mad at Moose almost as much as she flirts with him, and the cons who work in the warden's house seem to be acting a bit peculiar, too. And, Natalie is coming home for a visit. Needless to say, Moose's life isn't going to get less complicated any time soon.

I had some issues with book one, but I liked it enough to listen to the second book, too. I think I liked this better than the first. Choldenko is still hitting the nail on the head with her characters and setting - she introduces even more historical information in this title and backs it all up with a lengthy author's note at the end. Piper annoyed me even more in this book than in the first one - but a part of me still wanted her to suddenly become less annoying because there was something so appealing about reading about her.I liked the plot of this one better, though it's still a bit of a struggle for me. I wonder why Choldenko feels she needs to populate these books with multiple storylines - I think any of them would be interesting on their own. In this book, we have changing relationships among the kids of Alcatraz, Natalie returning to the island for her first visit from the special school she's attending, Moose's worry about the "help" he may have received from Al Capone, and a plot involving the cons. It's not that it doesn't all work together - it just feels a little frenetic at times. That being said, I thought these plot lines complemented each other more readily than those of the first book. I still think Moose's narrative is truly the book's shining light - he just feels so wonderfully real. To my surprise, there is a third book coming out later this year - I will definitely pick it up and see what new plot these characters find themselves in. Hand this series to kids looking for adventure-filled historical fiction.

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