Al Capone Does My Shirts is a young adult novel written by American Gennifer Choldenko and was published in 2004. It was met with general acclaim and was awarded the 2007 California Young Reader Medal. There are now more than a million copies in print worldwide.
When Mathew Moose Flannigan's father gets posted as a guard to the notorious Alcatraz prison, he comes up with clever way to make some money by getting the prisoners to wash his school friends' clothes.
The warden is understandably not impressed with this idea when he finds out about this and Moose finds himself in trouble. An angry warden is not Moose's only concern.
He has a sister, Natalie, who has special needs and who cannot get a place in the specialist school that would help her.
Natalie is autistic, but as the book is set in the mid 1930s, the condition was not identified at the time so no direct reference is made to it.
Despite her parents' best efforts, Natalie is often left at home and Moose has to care for her. When the parents have all but given up hope of getting Natalie the place she needs, Moose decides it is worth one last throw of the dice and decides to enlist the help of notorious gangster boss, Al Capone.
It is this devotion to his sister that shines through the whole story, ensuring that the young reader does become overpowered by the whole Alcatraz connection.
I have heard of Al Capone being described as Cap one because of a play based on his name and his fondness for killing or capping people.
In this story, at least, it is Moose who takes center stage and because of his great persona, he never looks likes being topped by anybody.
Gennifer Choldenko's is based in San Francisco and her first novel, Notes From a Liar and Her Dog, was a School Library Journal Book of the Year and a California Book Award winner.
The sequel novel to Al Capone Does My Shirts is Al Capone Shines My Shoes which was published in 2008. The final part of the trilogy is currently being written.