Gennifer Choldenko was the youngest in a family of four
kids, where her nickname was "Snot-Nose." Her quirky sense of humor
made its debut at the dinner table when Gennifer was a very little
kid. She is the author of seven children's books, including
Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, a School Library Journal Best
Book of the Year; If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period; and Al
Capone Shines My Shoes.
In our Best Books citation, PW said of this tale set in 1935, "Choldenko captures the tense, nuanced family dynamics touched off by the narrator's sister's disability as skillfully as she handles the mystique of Alcatraz." Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 6-8-In this skillfully told novel by Gennifer Choldenko (Putnam, 2004), 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move to Alcatraz Island in 1935, where his father gets a job in the prison which housed such noted criminals as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Moose's older sister, Natalie, is severely autistic and his mother has been obsessed with getting her "cured." She has been sent to a variety of schools and bizarre hospitals, none of which have helped, and their last hope is getting her into a school in San Francisco. Moose is given almost complete responsibility for his sister. Meanwhile, Moose is coping with his new school, living in an isolated and strange place, and the warden's daughter, Piper, who always has a new money-making scheme. Juggling Natalie's daily moods, school work, yearning for Piper, and worry over his folks, Moose tries to please everyone. His greatest fear is that somehow he has caused Natalie's problem. Listeners learn a lot about Alcatraz and what it was like for children to grow up on the Island. There is a lengthy author's note with extensive information that adds to the fictional tale. Johnny Heller does a masterful job conveying both Moose's anger towards and concern for Natalie. 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, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"Choldenko's pacing is exquisite. . . . [A] great read."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review