Living on Alcatraz doesn't quite become routine for Moose Flanagan, even though Al Capone Shines My Shoes is Gennifer Choldenko's second book on the island. The convicts are too spooky, even the supposedly tame ones the warden has doing his household chores. And the danger of jeopardising his father's job as a prison guard weighs on the whole family; times are tough in this depression era.
A lot of historical detail is slipped into this book, but the emphasis stayed firmly on Moose and his problems, not on showcasing an interesting piece of history. Moose's sister seems to have autism, but that's not a diagnosis yet, and the people around her vary in their acceptance of her strangeness. Moose himself realizes how difficult she makes things and how much attention she siphons from their parents, but he also loves her and wrestles with guilt over his resentment.
Moose likes to please people, an attitude I share. If a friend is interested in something, I'll try to muster up some interest as well, in support. To Moose's astonishment (and my inner sympathy), his friends find this approach two-faced, especially when added to his googly-eyes over the spoiled and vindictive (but pretty!) daughter of the warden. There's baseball tension, pressure from Al Capone who may have helped get Moose's sister into the special school, and general kid politics to keep me interested. B+