Alright! I am excited to be getting my second review post up! In this post I bring you a review for one of my countdown challenge books, and another one for a book I intended to put on the list, but forgot and then read anyway. We’ll start with the challenge book.
Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko
Quick recap: Moose Flanagan’s family moves to Alcatraz Island in order to be close to the school where Moose’s sister, Natalie, needs to go. The book starts just after the Flanagan family (Mr., Mrs., Natalie and Moose) moves to the island. Mr. Flanagan has a double job as an electrician and a guard and rarely gets to spend quality time with his family. Mrs. Flangan teaches piano lessons to help with the family’s income. This leaves Moose to tend after Natalie. Natalie is obviously different than regular people. Moose, although younger than Natalie (not that Mrs. Flanagan would acknowledge this), acts as Natalie’s big brother protector.
OK, that wasn’t the best recap, but I found it super hard to recap without gushing all over the place about how wonderful it is. First off, I loved Moose. His older sister (though in the book his mother says Natalie is 10 years old year after year), has a mental deficiency that is never specified in the book, although it is pretty easy to see which disorder she has (because we now know so much about it). The way that Choldenko showed Moose caring for and interacting with Natalie is very realistic I think. Moose is just a spectular person although he’s not without his faults. He does crack and he does yell at Natalie but he has the ability to push away his feelings of hurt and guilt to be the best brother for Natalie that he can possibly be.
Mrs. Flanagan irked me at several times throughout the book, not because of how she was written, but because of how well Choldenko wrote the relationship for Moose and Mrs. Flanagan. I got angry with her because I empathized so much with Moose. And let’s face it – what person who has at least one sibling has not thought at one point that their parents are favoring their brother(s) or sister(s). I don’t mean to say that anywhere in the book does Moose have the thought “Mom and Dad love Natalie more than me.” It’s not that at all. But reader’s will know that Moose knows his mom spends more time on Natalie, but he’s also not angry with his mom (or Natalie) for that. Moose is mainly angry with his mom for not listening to him ABOUT Natalie….and the fact that she took away his free afternoon with which he was playing baseball with his new school friends.
Mr. Flangan. I loved Mr. Flangan. The book is set in the 1930s, and back then I believe that fathers did not have too much of a roll in their children’s life. Mr. Flanagan seems to have a good balance though. He works a lot, yet still has time every now and then to throw the ball around with Moose and read to Natalie. And even though he usually lets Mrs. Flanagan call the shots with Moose and Natalie, he totally stands up and is there for Moose when Moose really needs him.
Natalie. Natalie was written very convincingly. I loved the way Moose thought about her. Choldenko did a brilliant job with that. It was easy for me to see that Natalie was not stupid, but more like a someone stuck in her own mind and couldn’t get out. I loved Natalie’s progression through the book and was so happy for Natalie at the end!
Piper. The warden’s daughter and the only other kid on the island that goes to school with Moose. Or rather, the only one that goes to the same school as Moose. When the book starts out she is bossy and has a huge ego. Well of course she does! She’s the warden’s daughter and consequently the most important kid on the island, right? I really started this book out not liking Piper. She just grated on my nerves and I really thought that she was going to cause Moose’s father to lose his job. But that’s the great thing about Choldenko. Every character in this book grows. Piper grew up in this book too. At the end I was totally on Team Piper (not you know like, THAT, but I ended up liking her).
My favorite character: Theresa Mattaman. Theresa is the first kid on Alcatraz Island that Moose meets. She is seven years old and a feisty little girl. I adored her and was so excited when she was around. During the book her mother gave birth to a baby boy, Rocky. She toted him around like he was her own baby and not just her brother. She is totally a little mother hen! She even mothers Natalie. It’s sooooo cute! You can’t help loving her. One of my favorite things Therersa says is “My mom has to keep her feet up. She’s due to have my baby soon.” ADORABLE!
So. Conclusion. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. NOW! Go to your local library and check it out!
Also, I’m super excited to see that there is a sequel (I think at least). Al Capone Shines My Shoes! And I just checked, it totally picks up where ACDMS left off! It’s already out and I can’t wait to read it!
Beastly by Alex Finn
I totally meant to put this on my challenge list. I had a harder time than I thought I would with books published in 2008. Then, when I was at the library picking up Enola Holmes I totally wandered into the YA section, as I ALWAYS do, and I saw Beastly. I remember a couple of weeks back when HarperTeen mentioned Beastly on Twitter and I thought, oh I’d really like to read that. Then I didn’t. I’m so glad I found it at the library! It was fate! I was supposed to read this book!
Recap: Kyle Kingsbury is the kind of guy that every guy wants to be and every girl wants to go out with. He has perfect looks, a perfect looking girlfriend, money to throw around. The perfect life, right? What he also has is a mean personality to boot. Then one day comes around and Kyle meets a real live witch masquerading as a goth chick high schooler. This witch then casts a spell on Kyle to turn him into a beast and the only way to turn him back is for him to find someone that he loves and can love him back. Or simply put: Beauty and the Beast retold in the 21st century.
OK, I super de duperly loved this book. But that probably figures because Beauty and the Beast is my favorite classic Disney movie and Belle is totally my favorite princess. I mean, how could she not be? She’s the reading princess! I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone, especially those who love Disney (even though this does NOT read like a Disney movie).
What I liked most about this book is that it is told from the point of view of Kyle. I don’t read a lot of books with boys as the protag (whoa, I’m on a roll I guess!), but I think Finn did a good job of capturing a boy’s voice. But at the same time, I feel like this is more of a girl’s book. Maybe that’s just the fairy tale aspect of it though.
Also, did you know they’re making a movie out of this book? I was super psyched, but then I looked at the cast list. Mary-Kate Olsen is playing the part of the witch… I bet you they just make her a goth chick (not that this is that much of a stretch from what she looks like right now…have you seen pictures?? The Olsen girls are scary looking right now! Lay off the makeup girls!) and not fat like the witch is supposed to be (at least in the beginning). And the girl playing Linda/Lindy (aka “Belle”) is Vanessa Hudgens. That was another twist in the story I liked – Linda wasn’t perfect looking. She had crooked teeth, etc. Vanessa Hudgens is way too cute. I really hope they try to ugly her up for this movie. Oh, and guess who else is in this movie! Neil Patrick Harris! I love him!
OK, that’s it for this review. Now go read!