Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Moose is Back and Better Than Ever in Newest Alcatraz Adventure

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Note:  Although this review will not contain spoilers for Al Capone Throws Me a Curve, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier Alcatraz novels.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.

While Moose Flanagan's friends believe his living situation on Alcatraz is the coolest thing ever, Moose just thinks of it as home.  The Island might house an inescapable prison, where some of the country's most notorious criminals are locked up, but it's not like he rubs shoulders with them in the chow line.  As unique a hometown as Alcatraz might be for a kid, it's still just a community with the same kind of mundane problems that plague any other place.  Of course, not every boy gets a helping hand now and then from the likes of Al Capone, but still ... Moose is just an ordinary kid.

It's the summer of 1936 and Moose has only one thing on his mind—baseball.  He desperately wants to make the high school team.  When his batting skills fail to impress the team's captain, Moose is offered a deal.  If he can bring the captain an impressive souvenir from the Rock, Moose is in.  It's an impossible task, but Moose has to try.  

Moose's big plans are thwarted by his usual nemeses, Natalie and Piper.  Although Natalie is four years older than Moose, her "special" condition means she can't be left alone.  The last thing on earth Moose wants to do is drag her to the mainland baseball diamond every day, but he's left with little choice.  He can't keep her out of trouble if he can't see her.  Unbelievably, the warden has asked him to keep an eye on his daughter as well.  Although Piper's pretty, she's also a mischievous, danger-loving whirlwind who's not afraid to sell out anyone who gets in the way of her scheming.  

All Moose wants to do is play baseball, but he's got two troublesome girls to watch over, a souvenir to procure, and a possible prison riot to worry about.  Before he knows it, he's up to his chin in problems.  When Natalie disappears at the worst possible time into the worst possible place, Moose is terrified—not just for his high school baseball career but for his very life ...

It's been five years since Gennifer Choldenko published an Al Capone book and man, have I missed Moose Flanagan!  He's an ordinary kid, yes, but one who possesses a heart of gold.  If you haven't gotten to know this understated but unforgettable character, you need to go back and read the three books that come before Al Capone Throws Me a Curve.  They're all atmospheric, entertaining, and exciting.  As is the newest installment in this excellent series.  Al Capone Throws Me a Curve brings back all the characters I fell in love with in the previous books and throws them into a new adventure that's even riskier than those that have come before.  With an intriguing setting, sympathetic characters, and lots of action, this book will keep readers young and old entertained from beginning to end.  I can't recommend the series highly enough.  I adore it.

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Alcatraz series, including Al Capone Does My Shirts; Al Capone Shines My Shoes; and Al Capone Does My Homework.  It also reminds me of The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli.)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for violence, scenes of peril, and brief, mild language (no F-bombs)

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Al Capone Throws Me a Curve from the generous folks at Penguin Random House.  Thank you!

8 comments:

  1. Good to know. These sound so cute. I’ve got the first on my shelf. I better pick it up sooner rather than later.

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    1. You should! The books are fast, interesting reads. They're funny, but they deal with more serious subjects as well.

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  2. I haven't read any of the books in this series, but they sound like fun!

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    1. They are! The setting is fascinating and the characters are colorful and fun.

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  3. I have the first on my audio list but have yet to listen to it. You've made me push it up the list!

    You asked about my favorite MG authors on my post on Wednesdays in the Tower and I have to say that Jessica Day George is definitely one of them. I also love classics like Elizabeth Enright and L.M. Montgomery. I'm trying to find newer MG authors so I'm definitely checking this one out!

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    1. Yes! Definitely give it a listen. I think you'll really enjoy the whole series.

      Thanks for the list of your favorite MG authors. I haven't read much Jessica Day George and I need to read more L.M. Montgomery. I haven't even heard of Elizabeth Enright, so I'll have to check her out.

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  4. I had just recently heard of this series, and I love the premise. I also think it's interesting to read about kids being kids back in the 30s.

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    1. Right? I didn't even realize there were kids on Alcatraz Island, but it's true! And so fascinating.

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