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Al Capone Does My Shirts

Last updated Friday, May 11, 2012

Author: Gennifer Choldenko
Date of Publication: 2006
ISBN: 0756970202
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2012

Synopsis: Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. I'm not the only kid who lives here. There's my sister, Natalie, except she doesn't count. And there are twenty-three other kids who live on the island because their dads work as guards, cooks, doctors, or electricians for the prison, like my dad does. Plus, there are a ton of murderers, rapists, hit men, con men, stickup men, embezzlers, connivers, burglars, kidnappers and maybe even an innocent man or two, though I doubt it. The convicts we have are the kind other prisons don't want. I never knew prisons could be picky, but I guess they can. You get to Alcatraz by being the worst of the worst. Unless you're me. I came here because my mother said I had to.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Did you ever have to move to a different home? How did you feel?
•  Do you know who Al Capone is?

•  Convicts: a person in prison
•  Stilts: posts supporting a building above land or water
•  Buoy: something floating in the water that signals something else
•  Felon: criminal
•  Affliction: state of pain
•  Tantrums: violent demonstrations of anger
•  Morgue: a place where dead bodies are kept
•  Standstill: stop
•  Inspects: observes

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Describe Alcatraz.
•  Do you think it would be hard to live there?

Craft ideas:
•  Alcatraz word search game is included in the site box
•  Mobile: Make a small mobile out of pipecleaners. Use string to tie letters or other things you would want to send to someone famous and make a mobile.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!