Al Capone Shines My Shoes

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9780142417188: Al Capone Shines My Shoes

What do you do when your neighbors are a bunch of hit men, con men, and mad dog murderers? Well, if you're Moose Flanagan, you ask the most notorious convict of them all, Al Capone, for help. But when that convict comes through for youÑand then asks you for a favor in returnÑsuddenly it's a whole different ball game. Picking up where the NewberyÐHonor winning Al Capone Does My Shirts left off, this lively second romp featuring Moose, his friends, and some of Alcatraz's "finest" is just as satisfying as the first.

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About the Author:

Gennifer Choldenko is the New York Times bestselling and Newbery Honor Award-winning author of ten children's books, including Notes From a Liar and Her Dog, If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, No Passengers Beyond this Point, Al Capone Does My Shirts, Al Capone Shines My Shoes, and Al Capone Does My Homework. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The big question . . .

I don’t know for certain it was Capone who helped us. I mean the guy is locked up in a five-by-nine-foot cell. He’s not allowed to make a phone call or write a letter that isn’t censored word for word. It doesn’t seem possible he could have done anything to help us, even if he wanted to.

But out of desperation, I sent a letter asking Capone for help and Natalie got accepted. Then I got a note in the pocket of my newly laundered shirt. Done, it said.

I haven’t told anyone about this. It’s something I try not to think about, but today, the day Nat’s finally leaving for school, I can’t keep my mind from going over the details again and again.

The thing that stumps me is why. I never even met Al Capone . . . why would he help me?

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PUFFIN BOOKS

An imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

For more information about the Penguin Group visit www.penguin.com

First published in the United States of America by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2009

Published by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2011

Copyright © Gennifer Choldenko, 2009

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE DIAL BOOKS EDITION AS FOLLOWS:

Choldenko, Gennifer, date.

Al Capone shines my shoes / Gennifer Choldenko.

p. cm.

Summary: Moose Flanagan, who lives on Alcatraz with his family and the families of the other prison guards, is frightened when he discovers that noted gangster Al Capone, a prisoner there, wants a favor in return for the help that he secretly gave Moose. Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN: 978-1-101-15578-3

1. United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, California—Juvenile fiction. [1. United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, California—Fiction. 2. Alcatraz Island (Calif.)—History—20th century—Fiction. 3. Autism—Fiction. 4. Brothers and sisters—Fiction.]

I. Title

PZ7.C446265Ap 2009

[Fic]—dc22

2009004157

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Table of Contents

 

The big question

Other Books You May Enjoy

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

 

Chapter 1. - THE CREAM OF THE CRIMINAL CROP

Chapter 2. - THE SECRET PASSAGEWAY

Chapter 3. - WILLY ONE ARM

Chapter 4. - MURDERERS AND MADMEN

Chapter 5. - AUNTIE’S REVENGE

Chapter 6. - WHAT CAPONE WANTS

Chapter 7. - ITCHY ALL OVER

Chapter 8. - ICEBOX FLY

Chapter 9. - THAT YOUR BOY, BOSS?

Chapter 10. - A DANGEROUS GAME

Chapter 11. - A ROOMFUL OF WIND-UP TOYS

Chapter 12. - THE IRISH WAY

Chapter 13. - EVERYBODY LIKES MOOSE

Chapter 14. - DEAD TWELVE-YEAR-OLDS

Chapter 15. - MAE CAPONE IS A LOOKER

Chapter 16. - PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

Chapter 17. - PIXIE GUARD #1

Chapter 18. - KISSING A DEAD SQUID

Chapter 19. - DRUNK IN THE GUARD TOWER

Chapter 20. - WELKUM HOM NADALEE

Chapter 21. - SHINY BUTTONS

Chapter 22. - TOILET’S STOPPED UP

Chapter 23. - SEVEN FINGERS’S CANDY BARS

Chapter 24. - A DEAL WITH THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER

Chapter 25. - THE BAD GUYS ARE LOCKED UP

Chapter 26. - AL CAPONE IS THE WAITER

Chapter 27. - THROW, CATCH, THROW, CATCH

Chapter 28. - PIG HALF IN THE POKE

Chapter 29. - A SWEET SPOT FOR MOOSE

Chapter 30. - WHY ARE BOYS SPECIAL?

Chapter 31. - THE WARDEN’S PARTY

Chapter 32. - THE GOOD PRISONER

Chapter 33. - OUTSIDE THE WARDEN’S HOUSE

Chapter 34. - THE BOSS

Chapter 35. - THE PIXIE JAILER PLAYGROUND

Chapter 36. - KIDS ON THE ROCK

Chapter 37. - THE YELLOW DRESS

 

AUTHOR’S NOTE

NOTES

Acknowledgements

Discussion Guide for Al Capone Shines My Shoes

An Excerpt from Al Capone Does My Homework

To my brother,
GREY CATTELL JOHNSON,
who is every bit as kind as Moose

1.

THE CREAM OF THE CRIMINAL CROP

Monday, August 5, 1935

 

 

 

 

Nothing is the way it’s supposed to be when you live on an island with a billion birds, a ton of bird crap, a few dozen rifles, machine guns, and automatics, and 278 of America’s worst criminals—“the cream of the criminal crop” as one of our felons likes to say. The convicts on Alcatraz are rotten to the core, crazy in the head, and as slippery as eels in axle grease.

And then there’s me. Moose Flanagan. I live on Alcatraz along with twenty-four other kids and one more on the way. My father works as a prison guard and an electrician in the cell house up top. I live where most of us “civilians” do, in 64 building, which is dockside on the east side of Alcatraz—a base hit from the mobster Al Capone.

Not many twelve-year-old boys can say that. Not many kids can say that when their toilet is stopped up, they get Seven Fingers, the ax murderer, to help them out, either. Even simple things are upside down and backwards here. Take getting my socks washed. Every Wednesday we put out our dirty laundry in big white bags marked with our name: FLANAGAN. Every Monday our clothes come back starched, pressed, folded, and smelling of soap and flour. They look like my mom washed them for me.

Except she didn’t.

My laundry man is Alcatraz #85: Al Capone. He has help, of course. Machine Gun Kelly works right alongside him in the laundry along with thirty other no-name hit men, con men, mad dog murderers, and a handful of bank robbers too.

They do a good job washing the clothes for us and most everyone else on the island. But sometimes they do a little extra.

The cons don’t care for Officer Trixle, so his laundry doesn’t return the same way as everyone else’s. His shirts are missing buttons, underwear is stiff with starch or dyed pansy pink, pants are missing a cuff or the fly is sewn shut so the guy can’t even take a leak unless he pulls his pants down like a little girl.

I can’t say the cons are wrong about Officer Trixle. Darby Trixle is the kind of guy who only his wife likes—and not that much either. Last Saturday my best friend Jimmy Mattaman and I were looking for a barrel for Jimmy’s fly menagerie, and Janet Trixle, Darby’s seven-year-old daughter, just happened to see we were walking by the Black Mariah, the Alcatraz paddy wagon. That was all we were doing—walking by it. But when Darby saw the Mariah had a flat tire, who do you think got the blame?

Yours truly.

It couldn’t have been Darby drove over a nail. Oh no. It had to have been us. We had to go with him to San Francisco and carry a new tire down Van Ness Avenue, to the ferry and up the switchback, to where the Mariah was parked up top. Darby wouldn’t even let us roll it on the road. Didn’t want it to get dirty. It’s a tire! Where does he think it usually goes?

My father wouldn’t help us with Darby either. “I know you had nothing to do with that flat tire, but it won’t hurt you to give Darby a hand, Moose,” is what he said.

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 if there isn’t at least one officer on the free side who ought to be locked up and maybe a convict who isn’t half as bad as he’s cracked up to be. I’m thinking about Al Capone—the most notorious gangster in America, the worst guy we have up top. How could it be that he did me a good turn?

It doesn’t make sense, does it? But Al Capone got my sister, Natalie, into a school called the Esther P. Marinoff where she’d been turned down twice already. It’s a boarding school for kids who have their wires crossed up. It’s a school and not a school . . . a place to make her normal.

I don’t know for certain it was Capone who helped us. I mean the guy is locked up in a five-by-nine-foot cell. He’s not allowed to make a phone call or write a letter that isn’t censored word for word. It doesn’t seem possible he could have done anything to help us, even if he wanted to.

But out of desperation, I sent a letter asking Capone for help and Natalie got accepted. Then I got a note in the pocket of my newly laundered shirt: Done, it said.

I haven’t told anyone about this. It’s something I try not to think about, but today, the day Nat’s finally leaving for school, I can’t keep my mind from going over the details again and again.

The thing that stumps me is why. I never even met Al Capone . . . why would he help me?

I watch Nat as she sits on the living room floor going through our books one by one. She looks almost like a regular sixteen-year-old this morning, if her mouth wasn’t twitching right and right and right again and her shoulders were just down where they’re supposed to be. She opens a book, fans her face with the pages, then sets the book back on the shelf, just exactly as it was. She has been through one entire shelf this way. Now she’s working on the second.

Normally, my mom wouldn’t let her do this, but today she doesn’t want to take the chance of upsetting her.

“You ready to go, Natalie?” my mother asks.

Nat moves faster. She fans the pages so quickly each book sounds like one quick ffffrrrt. All I hear is ffffrrrt ffffrrrt ffffrrrt as I look out our front window down to the dock. Sure enough there’s Officer Trixle. He’s supposed to be off today, but Trixle can’t keep his nose out of our business. He’s almost as much trouble as Piper, the warden’s daughter—only not half as pretty. When you look like Piper does, people forgive a whole lot of things, but never mind about that. What I think about Piper is kind of embarrassing, to tell you the truth.

My father comes out of the bathroom. The toilet is running again. The plumbing in 64 building is held together with bubble gum and last year’s oatmeal stuck hard and solid. But luckily for us, Seven Fingers, our very own felon plumber, fixes it for free. Not exactly for free actually. We pay him a chocolate bar every time, but no one is supposed to know that.

“Time to go, Natalie,” my mom says.

Natalie is wearing a new yellow dress today. My mother cut the pattern, but the convicts in the tailor shop sewed it. The cons did a pretty good job. Only the belt is bugging Nat. She pulls at it, weaving it in and out of the loops. In and out. In and out. Nat’s mouth puckers to one side. “Moose school. Natalie home,” she says.

“Not today,” my mother says brightly. “Today is your big day. Today you’re going to school.”

Not today,” Nat tells her. “Not today. Not today.”

I can’t help smiling at this. Natalie likes to repeat what you say and here she’s repeating my mom’s exact words with a change of inflection that makes them say what Natalie wants them to say and not at all what my mother meant. I love when Natalie outsmarts Mom this way. Sometimes Nat is smarter than we are. Other times, she doesn’t understand the first thing about anything. That’s the trouble with Natalie—you never know which way she’ll go.

The first time Nat went to the Esther P. Marinoff School she pitched a fit the size of Oklahoma and they kicked her out, but I don’t think that will happen this time. She’s getting better in her own weird way. I used to say Nat’s like a human adding machine without the human part, but now she’s touching down human more days than not. And each time she does it feels as if the sun has come out after sixty straight days of rain.

“Tell her, Moose. Tell her how wonderful it’s going to be,” my mother says.

“Tell her, Moose. Tell her how wonderful it’s going to be,” Nat repeats, picking up her button box and holding it tight against her chest.

“You get to take your buttons, Nat. Mom said,” I say.

I almost think I see her smile then—as much of a smile as you ever get from Natalie anyway. She peeks inside her button box, checking to make sure all of her precious buttons are exactly where they’re supposed to be.

When we head down to the dock, my mom’s step is light on the stairs. She’s so sure that the Esther P. Marinoff will be the thing that fixes Natalie. My dad’s feet are moving to the beat of an Irish jig. Natalie is taking each step carefully and methodically as if she wants each foot to make a lasting impression on the stairs.

When we get down to the water’s edge I see Trixle walking across the dock, bullhorn in hand.

Two hundred yards back please! All boats must stay two hundred yards off the shore!” Officer Trixle booms through his bullhorn to a tour boat that has come too close to the island.

“Warned him before, that one. Mac’ll put a bead on him. Fix ’em good,” Trixle tells my father.

Natalie hates loud noises. Once they shot a warning blast into the water when we were in our apartment and she curled up in a ball in the middle of the living room and stayed that way for the better part of the afternoon. Another time she didn’t seem to hear a gun go off ten feet away. It’s impossible to predict what Natalie will do.

“Darby, hey Darby . . .” my father wheedles. “Please—not today, okay, buddy?”

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