Al Capone Throws Me a Curve — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.” 

~ Kurt Vonnegut ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

Kathy Temean at Writing and Illustrating has a good post HERE with 20 things to check for while revising your novel. By the way, if you aren’t reading Writing and Illustrating all the time, you will miss a LOT of great stuff.  

Janice Hardy has such great stuff on her blog. HERE is a post on raising the tension in your scenes. We all want to do that, don’t we?

Anne R. Allen writes about great first sentences HERE with a veritable plethora of terrific examples.

Gehrig & Antonio the Llama
Gehrig with Antonio, the baby llama.

My grandson, Gehrig, came home last week from an amazing two-week trip to Peru. It was a service trip, and he and the other young men and women (about 30 of them) helped to build a weaving center in one of the villages in the area. They also were able to visit Machu Picchu (I am sooooo jealous!), went white water rafting, and other fun things. He had a fabulous time and it was a good growing up experience for him. And he got to hold a baby llama, which made him particularly happy. That boy has never met an animal he didn’t like.

Last week I promised one of you a gently-read hardback of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty. This week’s winner is Natalie Aguirre of Literary Rambles. You really should be reading her blog regularly. She has great author and agent interviews, lots of giveaways, and other great stuff. Check it out HERE. Congratulations, Natalie! I will get your book out to you soon. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it. If you didn’t win, please make sure you are a follower and leave a comment. That’s the only way to win. Please keep on reading. I have another terrific book to give away.

Once in a while, I am offered review copies of books by publicists. I was sent a copy of Al Capone Throws Me A Curve by Gennifer Choldenko. I met her some years ago at an SCBWI holiday party. She is lovely,  and I received her first Al Capone book, Al Capone Does My Shirts, at the event. I loved that book so was very pleased to get a copy of her new one. It did not disappoint. If you haven’t read any of the books in this series, I really suggest you start with the first one, although this one certainly stands on it’s own. It’s just that you will enjoy it more if you are already invested in these characters.

Al CaponeMoose Flanagan is back, still living with his family on Alcatraz Island. His dad is a prison guard and the housing is part of the job. Moose’s older sister, Natalie, is severely autistic, but she is becoming a young woman, even though her autism makes it difficult for her to deal with her blossoming body and racing hormones. Moose, at the end of the school year, is focused on how to get on the high school baseball team. He and his best friend, Scout, are going to meet with some boys already on the team to try to get them to accept them on the team. When he has to take Natalie along, he doesn’t realize how complicated his life will become.

Natalie spots one of the older boys, the very handsome Passerini, and she is immediately smitten, and he is all Natalie can talk about. A neighbor lady who is always poking her nose in other people’s business, offers to give Natalie a haircut for her birthday. She gives her a very fashionable cut and also gives her a form-fitting dress and high-heeled shoes. The warden asks Moose to keep his eye on the warden’s daughter, Piper, who is Moose’s age. She is a real handful and always gets into things. Moose ends up having to take both Natalie and Piper to meet the guys for baseball. Natalie brings something to the game she thinks will help Moose get on the team and also will impress Passerini, but it’s something none of the kids should have. (I don’t want to spoil things for you.) Things get really complicated. But this incident leads to far more dangerous things and Natalie winds up inside the cellblock, and it is up to Moose to try to save her.

G. Chaldenko
Gennifer Choldenko

Gennifer Choldenko has written a rich and complex story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. I couldn’t put it down. And her writing is just wonderful. I love her metaphors. (The Warden’s stoop sparkles like a giant tongue has licked it clean. Or this one — the water is green, like unwashed teeth.) The characters are all well-rounded and perfectly believable. The time and place are particularly interesting, and the dialogue is natural. Choldenko doesn’t shirk from talking about the problems families face with autism, teaching her readers important lessons, but with such a deft touch, young readers will have no idea they are being taught. Don’t miss this wonderful book, whatever your age. This isn’t only for middle-graders.

I have a gently-read ARC for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. If you are reading this in your email, please click HERE to get to my blog, then click on the title of the post, and leave a comment. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.



12 thoughts on “Al Capone Throws Me a Curve — Review & Giveaway”

  1. So glad for Gehrig. The experience will stick with him for a lifetime.
    The links were perfect timing as I’m revising a story and many of these points will strengthen my final revision.
    Although my stack of books to read is at an all time low, I will let someone else win this great book as I’ve already read my own copy. Moose is a great character and is the kind of brother or son anyone would want.


  2. This book sounds great! I’ve heard good things about the earlier books in this series, and it sounds like this one doesn’t disappoint! I’ll pass on the giveaway, but thanks so much for the review!


  3. Congrats to Natalie! I love to read her blog and she is so supportive of her readers and authors. I’ve read all of the books in this series except this one and am excited to see another fun book out soon. I shared on twitter, facebook, pinterest, tumblr, and google+ to help spread the word.


  4. Congrats to Gehrig. His trip sounds like a wonderful experience. I’ll pass on the book, as I have too many unread books on my shelf. I did read the first, though, and thought it was well-written.


  5. I’m a bit jealous of Gehrig’s wonderful experience. Machu Picchu is on my bucket list. Having the opportunity to work in the community had to have added so much to the experience.
    I hadn’t heard of the Al Capone series, am curious about how “Big Al” fits into the stories. Please put me in the drawing!


  6. I have heard of Al Capone Does My Shirts, but don’t know much about it. Thanks for sharing the last novel in the series and reminding me of the first. The prison setting sounds interesting. I will add them to my list.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s