Al Capone Does My Shirts is a wonderful book for children about life on Alcatraz Island in the 1930’s, which is the time the infamous gangster Al Capone was incarcerated there. This book is a Newbery Honor book for 2005.
Matthew “Moose” Flanagan has moved to Alcatraz Island when his father gets a job as a prison guard in 1935, during the height of the Great Depression. He has a 15 year-old sister who nowadays would be recognized as special needs but in the book is considered handicapped and unfit for society who should be shut away in a mental institution. Moose loves to play baseball and do typical activities 12 year-old boys do. Moose and his friend, Piper, the warden’s daughter, hatch a plot to make money by having the criminals do the laundry of the kids at school. The criminals currently do the laundry of all those on the island so their plan is to slip in the kids’ clothes and claim Al Capone did their laundry.
However, Moose’s world is consumed by taking care of his sister and her needs. His family is trying to get his sister, Natalie, into a special school for children like her. However, she is rejected due to her age. Desperate, Moose writes a letter to Al Capone to pull some strings and get her in. He does.
Cute book. Very historically accurate. Kids learn all about Al Capone and the infamous Alcatraz Island prison. Great writing. Engaging. Fun. Funny. The characters are well developed. Highly recommended.
Two sequels have been written: Al Capone Shines My Shoes where Moose is called out by Al Capone to help him since he helped his sister get into the Esther P Marinoff School and Al Capone Does My Homework where Moose’s apartment is burned and his sister being blamed, he sets out to discover who set his family’s apartment on fire and why. All three books are great reads and a great lesson on siblings caring for one another and standing up for one another. Moose also shows signs of liking girls and he struggles with making new friends and keeping them. The books deal with the discrimination of those kids different from others and the struggles these families faced. Gennifer Choldenko does a fabulous job of narrating a tumultuous time in kids’ lives.
Psalm 18:2: “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Pray this to Him:
God is mine as I am His. He is always behind me no matter how hard I fall. He lifts me up and places me gently back down. He is the one I run to. He shields me from every evil. He is my fortress. Lord, you are mine. With all my heart, all my soul, all of whom you made me, I thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Rocks are some of the strongest materials on this planet. They are beautiful, enchanting, mesmerizing, and at the same time intimidating, threatening, and dangerous. The former is God to His people; the latter is God to nonbelievers. A rock is all of this and so much more. Lord, be my rock today.
How many times have you told yourself, “Yeah, I’ll do it, I’ll do it” only for ‘it’ to never get done? Stop putting off those ‘it’ things–we all have them–and do them! You will immediately feel better and be that much closer to your goal.
John 14:26: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Great words from this past year’s study of John, reminding us that we don’t need to have everything figured out. The Holy Spirit will teach us what we need to know when we need to know it. So quit worrying!
Romans 2:1: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”
Show grace today. We are all sinners. We’ve all done stupid things. Forgive and forget as God forgives us. Life it too short to hold grudges and judge others just to make ourselves feel better.
Galatians 5:13: “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
On this day of celebration of Independence, let’s not forget who grants us independence: God. With our freedoms we are to do good, not harm. We are to remember others and remember those who sacrificed for our freedoms. Christ gives us the ultimate freedom in him. On this side of heaven, God grants us individual freedoms to be used for His good. Don’t take those (or Him) for granted.