Al Capone Does My Homework: A Tale From Alcatraz
Reviewed by Denise Dillow, BCPL youth services supervisor
This book, the third and final one in the series, immediately grabs your attention! Who could imagine an infamous mobster, like Al Capone, doing someone’s homework for them? Not me. I was intrigued, and had to read.
This story takes place in 1936 on Alcatraz Island. If the island sounds familiar, it is because Alcatraz Prison was once there. Many dangerous criminals were imprisoned there because it had the reputation that no prisoners could escape from Alcatraz.
This fictional story revolves around the life of Moose Flanagan. Thirteen-year old Moose lives on the island. His father just got promoted to associate warden at the prison. His friend, the warden’s daughter, lets him know that he needs to watch his father’s back because the prisoners play a dangerous game. They collect a certain number of points for doing things like spitting on a guard. They get bonus points for killing a warden.
On the first day of his father’s new position, Moose witnesses a prisoner spitting behind his father’s back! He’s sure these prisoners have it in for his dad. That night, Moose’s mother and father go out to dinner with the Warden to celebrate Moose’s father’s new job. Moose is left to babysit his older sister, who has autism.
After they have been asleep for some time, Moose is awakened to the smell of burning wood! Their apartment is on fire! Moose gets his sister outside and the other tenants also escape.
The fire has ruined their apartment. Bea Trixley, a guard’s wife, blames the fire on Moose’s sister. Bea’s husband, who is angry that he didn’t get the Associate Warden job, agrees that Natalie, Moose’s sister, is to blame.
Moose knows that one of the prisoners has to be involved with this crime. The Warden’s Task Force just doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to find out how the fire started. Moose must investigate who set the fire to clear his sister’s name. If he doesn’t, his father might lose his job and his sister might be thrown out of her school.
Moose and his friends secretly work on their own to solve the mystery. With help from some cockroaches – and Al Capone giving Moose a clue in his homework – Moose gets into some big adventures. There are a lot of surprises along the way. I won’t tell you what happens at the end. You will just have to read it to find out!