Reviews

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

blakehalsey's review against another edition

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4.0

Good sequel and equally fun and witty!

kandicez's review against another edition

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4.0

I wanted to think about this book before a review and while thinking realized it was a four star read, not a three star read. This is historical fiction for youth and I was thinking of it as an adult book. That's a compliment, because Choldenko does not speak down to her audience, but I lost sight of the fact that young adults/children reading this book would be learning a lot as they did so. It was so cleverly written that they probably wouldn't even be aware of it. That's my favorite kind of historical fiction.

Choldenko gives exquisite detail about like in the 1930s, but even better is that her glimpse into that decade is narrowed to what life not only as a prison guard's son would be, but what it would be like to live next door to criminals on an isolated by design island. She does a terrific job of setting the scene without seeming to do so. She shows, doesn't tell, and that's the best kind of storytelling there is.

I genuinely like Moose, the main character, and even more so because of his relationship with his sister Natalie. Natalie seems to suffer from Autism, but Choldenko doesn't ever say so. They didn't have a word for Autism in the 1930's, but the fact that she is able to convey that this is exactly what's going on with Natalie is fantastic. It reminds me of [a:Margaret George|6599|Margaret George|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1273256433p2/6599.jpg]'s [b:The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers|10108|The Autobiography of Henry VIII With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers|Margaret George|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1439956289s/10108.jpg|2505877]. George was able to show us Henry had diabetes without ever once using the word. For Choldenko, my comparing her to George is the best praise I can think of.

lindasdarby's review against another edition

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read a couple of pages and then got into another book. some other time I'll get to this book.

jcschildbach's review against another edition

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4.0

I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as the first--"Al Capone does My Shirts." This book felt less cohesive, like there were a lot of elements vying for attention--some more successfully than others. For instance, Moose's best friend Scout figures prominently in the early part of the book, but then disappears. And Jimmy is working on a fly circus (yes, flies). Aside from just not making much sense, the fly circus is present more heavily in the early part of the book and then becomes a part of the background, mentioned from time to time--but mostly so it will be in reader's minds for a particular (but not particularly important) reason near the end of the story. I give Choldenko points for ambition--she was trying to do a lot of things in terms of coming up with a plausible sequel, and pursuing further character development for almost all the characters--and some of that has emotional heft. It was especially satisfying to see Piper--the Warden's mildly evil daughter--owning up to some of her less pleasant behaviors, and struggling with some frightening family issues. Natalie, Moose's autistic sister, definitely has a pivotal role, but doesn't drive the emotional center and plot of the story as she did in the first book. In fact, nothing really ever stands out as the center. Choldenko definitely has a solid sense of how kids interact and understand themselves and each other, and of the awkward dynamics of early crushes. But it feels like several of the elements didn't auite get enough time and attention to really grow, or to allow the whole book to come together.

bak8382's review against another edition

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4.0

I really enjoyed the premise and time period of the first book so I definitely wanted to read this one. I was not disappointed! I was once again totally immersed in Moose's world on Alcatraz.
We find Moose excited that his sister is finally going to a school that might help her, but that happiness comes with a price. He asked Capone to help him and now it's his turn to do a favor for Capone. If that wasn't bad enough all his friends keep getting angry at him for no reason.
Choldenko has created a totally believable world full of interesting characters and great historical details.

sandraagee's review against another edition

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4.0

Sequels make me very, very nervous. I was especially worried about this one since I enjoyed [b:Al Capone Does My Shirts|89716|Al Capone Does My Shirts|Gennifer Choldenko|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171163482s/89716.jpg|2952174] so much. While this was a very good effort, it wasn't quite perfect. It bothers me in the way that so many sequels do: It works fine if you take it on its own out of the context of the original, but somehow the transition to the sequel isn't quite seamless.

Really, the story was great. Moose and his family are back, living on Alcatraz in 1935. Everything picks up right where Al Capone Does My Shirts left off: Natalie is leaving to attend the special school that everyone hopes will cure her autism, which you may recall she was only able to attend with the help of gangster Al Capone. Everything seems great, until Moose realizes that if Capone can extend his influence beyond the Island, he'll probably want something from Moose in return. And then Moose gets another note in his laundry. Should he tell his parents? Meanwhile, Moose is having a world of normal kid trouble with his Alcatraz friends, who are much more developed than I remember them being in the first book, and with one of the guards who thinks that Natalie is a danger to everyone on the Island.

Excellent premise. I'd even say that the execution was very worthy. But you know how sometimes when you see a movie sequel something is different? Something about the lighting, the digital effects, the addition of new sidekick characters and interesting places, and even the fact that the acting was done a year or two later just makes everything feel slightly different. That's the feel I get from this book.

Maybe this won't bother most readers. I'm sure kids who enjoyed the first one will also eat up this sequel. I'm probably just overly critical in that respect. When it comes down to it, the book did its job: It extended the story in a believable, engaging way. Besides, we finally get to meet Al Capone fact to face. Can't complain about that!

My only true qualm about this book: Piper. She was so cool in the first book, and now she's reduced to the whiny love interest who's a suffragist waiting to happen. Where she was once devious and interesting, she's now just a little desperate and pathetic.

compass_rose's review against another edition

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3.0

Second reading (this time dad and 11yo) Both loved it.

cogsofencouragement's review against another edition

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5.0

Read at bedtime with my kids. An amusing, heartfelt and thrilling sequel.

kayleesbookobession's review against another edition

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lighthearted mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

beccalarose's review against another edition

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4.0

I love these books. They're just plain fun!