Audiobook Review: Al Capone Shines My Shoes

Audiobook Review: Al Capone Shines My ShoesAl Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko
Narrator: Kirby Heyborne
Length: 7 hrs, 51 mins
Series: Al Capone at Alcatraz #2
Published by Listening Library on September 8, 2009
Genres: Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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three-half-stars

When I first moved here, I thought all the bad guys were on one side of the bars and all the good guys were on the other. But lately, I’ve begun to wonder . . .

Moose’s family moved to Alcatraz so his father could work as a guard and his sister could attend a special school in San Francisco. Living on an island with a few hundred no-name hit men, con men, and mad dog murderers (and a handful of bank robbers, too) has its challenges. Like Officer Darby–who seems to have it in for Moose; Jimmy–who feels jealous of Moose’s baseball friend Scout; Annie–who demands that Moose fess up to a secret that could get his family kicked off Alcatraz; and Piper, the warden’s cute, danger-loving daughter–who is as mad at Moose as often as she is sweet on him. By comparison, Willy One Arm and Buddy Boy, the cons who work at the warden’s house, and Seven Fingers, the ax murderer who helps his family out when their toilet is stopped up, don’t seem all that bad. But the line between good and bad is much clearer than Moose realizes. And if he doesn’t figure it out soon, he could be in a world of trouble.

To think I wasn’t going to read this series at all and I’m really enjoying it. So, in this case, I’m really grateful for the random review copy of book three, which came out a month or so ago. Hey, I may not be getting to it by release, but they should be glad I made time for it at all, right? Anyway, this series is on the middle grade/YA border and just a lot of fun. I’m not sure whether Al Capone Shines My Shoes is better than Al Capone Does My Shirts or if I just have more affection for these characters now, but I enjoyed this one a bit more.

The setting on Alcatraz continues to be awesome. I mean, there’s this whole little community made up of the guards’ families that lives on this island prison. How awesome is that? There’s a bit more interaction with the cons in this installment too, including a *gasp* escape attempt. Even more fantastic is learning what Choldenko made up and what she drew from history, which she explains once the story is over. Also, we finally get to meet Al Capone. He was just mentioned in the first book, but he’s an actual character now.

The main focus, escape attempt aside, of Al Capone Shines My Shoes is the group dynamic of all these kids that live on Alcatraz. Basically, it’s about how Moose is too nice and popular, because they all want him to like them the most. Everyone loves him, but his close friends are annoyed that it’s hard to tell what his real opinions are because he’s so nice to everybody. It’s so funny, because Moose does not get what they’re all mad at him for at all, especially since they all end up angry at him while saying that everyone loves him. That drama is more fun than it sounds. Especially amusing were Moose’s romantic travails. Piper, the warden’s daughter, is selfish and mean, but also very pretty, and he’s got a serious crush on her even though he knows he shouldn’t. They keep trying to get together when they’re not fighting, but Theresa, a younger girl, keeps interrupting because she doesn’t want Moose with the evil Piper. The whole thing is so funny to me.

Though Moose is the main character, there’s a lot of detail about the whole group of kids and even their parents, which I really love. It’s not just about Moose and his love interest. It’s about the whole island and their day-to-day life. On top of that, Choldenko emphasizes not just that kids can make a difference, but that each individual kid has their own set of skills and abilities that makes them unique and useful.

While I wasn’t totally sold on Kirby Heyborne’s narration in the last book, I’m totally used to him now. He makes a good Moose, and I continue to crack up when he does the teen voice cracking thing. Though I’m not crying at switching to the print for book three, I’ll definitely find the audio if I’m not enjoying it in print.

The Al Capone at Alcatraz series continues to be fun, and, if you enjoyed the first book, I would recommend continuing.

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:

Sort of an inside joke, but this cracked me up

Sort of an inside joke, but this cracked me up

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