Moose Flannagan moves with his family to Alcatraz so his dad can work as a prison guard and his sister, Natalie, can attend a special school. But Natalie has autism, and when she's denied admittance to the school, the stark setting of Alcatraz begins to unravel the tenuous coping mechanisms Moose's family has used for dealing with her disorder.
When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the Warden, he knows right off she's trouble. But she's also strangely irresistible. All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents' expectations, and stay out of trouble. But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.
Set in 1935, when guards actually lived on Alcatraz Island with their families. Choldenko's second novel brings humor to the complexities of family dynamics and illuminates the real struggle of a kid trying to free himself from the "good boy" stance he's taken his whole life.
CRITICS HAVE SAID
- His timing is perfect, he voices all the characters with great versatility, and he makes Moose come to life. This is a fascinating book superbly narrated. – B. Allison Gray, School Library Journal
- With its unique setting and well-developed characters, this warm, engaging coming-of-age story has plenty of appeal, and Choldenko offers some fascinating historical background on Alcatraz Island in an afterword. – Ed Sullivan, Booklist
- This is an amusing book about interesting characters placed in a different and unlikely setting and trying to make the best of their situation. – Della A. Yannuzzi, Children
- Choldenko, author of Notes From a Liar and Her Dog, offers a sensitive portrait of autism and how it affects a family, and in a author’s note at the end she discusses her research about life on Alcatraz and on autism, and mentions that her own sister has autism. An affecting novel. – Paula Rohrlick, KLIATT
IF YOU LOVE THIS BOOK, THEN TRY:
- Choldenko, Gennifer. If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period. Harcourt, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0152057534
- Choldenko, Gennifer. Notes from a Liar and Her Dog. Putnam, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0142500682
- Conly, Jane Leslie. Crazy Lady! HarperCollins, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0064405713
- Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0553494105
- Dodds, Bill. My Sister Annie. Boyds Mills, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-1563975547
- Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust. Scholastic, 1997. ISBN-13: 978-0590371254
- Levine, Gail Carson. Dave at Night. HarperCollins, 1999. ISBN-13: 978-0064407472
- Lisle, Janet Taylor. The Art of Keeping Cool. Atheneum, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-0689837883
- Lisle, Janet Taylor. How I Became a Writer and Oggie Learned to Drive. Philomel, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0142501672
- Peck, Richard. A Long Way from Chicago. Dial, 1998. ISBN-13: 978-0142401101
- Peck, Richard. A Year Down Yonder. Dial, 2000. ISBN-13: 978-0142300701
- Shyer, Marlene Fanta. Welcome Home, Jellybean. Macmillan, 1978. ISBN-13: 978-0689712135
- Slepian, Jan. Risk N’ Roses. Philomel, 1990. ISBN-13: 978-0590453615