Al Capone Does My Shirts

Sometimes, while one is knee-deep in American Studies or sociology books dealing with work and leisure or dissecting the toxic vacuum we call culture, it’s good to come up for air with a palate cleanser. This Newberry-Honor book (not quite up to Newberry-Award status) was almost what I needed, but I chaffed at what felt like anachronistic props and dialog. A bit of research shows that the metal detector was installed in 1934, so the story’s setting in 1935 could make use of it, but… Reservations aside, a kid moves to Alcatraz when his dad is posted as an electrician/guard. His older sister Natalie is severely autistic and the family hopes to post her in San Francisco at a special school. The kid (Moose) ferries to the Marina for school, makes some baseball chums, and gets sucked into a conspiracy with the warden’s daughter to make money on the mainland saps by getting their laundry and having the prisoners do it, saying Al Capone laundered their clothes. After being busted by the warden, the next scheme is to sell prisoner baseballs to the kids, which Natalie miraculously helps with by befriending prisoner 105. Blah blah blah, not worth recounting the rest.