Friday, June 29, 2018

Al Capone Throws Me a Curve

Choldenko, Gennider. Al Capone Throws Me a Curve
May 1st 2018 by Wendy Lamb Books
Public Library E Book

There are a lot of things going on for Moose now that summer is approaching. He desperately wants to be on the high school baseball team, even though freshman rarely are. Also, Natalie has her 17th birthday, and her growing pains are evident. Her mother still dresses her like a ten year old, and wants to get her hair cut in a much younger style, but Bea Trixle has other ideas and not only cuts her hair in a stylish fashion for a young lady, but gives her two dresses that make Natalie feel more grown up. This causes some problems, including her crush on one of Moose's teammates after he is very nice to her and even gives her a button. Natalie keeps talking about Passerini, and even tells people that they are getting married. Bea even believes her! Moose knows he needs to have something special to bring to the team so that they let him on, and the other boys ask for pictures of Moose with Al Capone, and that sort of thing, which is just not realistic. Natalie hears this talk and brings their father's gun to a practice. This gets Moose in big trouble, but he doesn't tell on his sister. Piper is also causing him a lot of problems, since the warden approaches Moose to help look after her and keep her out of trouble. When the prisoners go on strike, Moose helps out with some of the work. One of the inmates, Fastball, is set to be released soon, so doesn't go on strike. When Bea plays a trick on Natalie so that Moose's father will look bad and her husband will be promoted to warden instead of him, Fastball is very helpful in getting Natalie out of a tricky situation. Moose realizes that while Alcatraz is a good place for him to be, it is not a great place for Natalie, and he helps his parents work through the process of getting her placed where she can flourish.
Strengths: This wraps up the story of Moose's family very nicely, showcases some nice growth from all concerned (even the father and mother!), and offers a glimpse of a particular place and time that is at once unusual and yet universal. The struggles the family has with finding a good place for Natalie would have been more difficult in the 1930s, but are still not easy today, but it was good to see that she had an affinity for bookkeeping and was able to excel at it. Moose's every day struggles with friends, school and baseball are realistic as well.
Weaknesses: I somehow didn't connect with Piper in this book, although I liked her in the past. Maybe too many other things required Moose's attention, so she got less.
What I really think:  Our 6th grade often reads the first book in this series as a class novel, so this will see steady circulation. I just wish we were close enough for the students to go on a field trip to Alcatraz! The notes at the end of the book are fun and helpful.
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. My daughters loved visiting Alcatraz (but it didn't get them reading this series even though they read the first book in 5th grade as part of assigned reading).