Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

Recommendation: **** (4-stars)

When I found this sequel to "Al Capone Does My Shirts" at our library I was so excited to read it! In this book, the story of Moose Flanagan and his family living on Alcatraz continues. Moose's sister Natalie is off to the Esther P. Marinelli school and life is going to be just great...but trouble just seems to find Moose. Trouble with Mr. Trixle (one of the guards), trouble with his friends and even trouble with the inmates on Alcatraz. There is no shortage of humor, surprises and adventure on Alcatraz!

Positives: I just love the story. It was funny and moving and so down to earth. Some of the problems these kids have are ordinary kid problems, but they are always compounded a bit by the fact that they live on Alcatraz. And some of their problems are unique to living on Alcatraz which lends itself to some pretty humorous situations.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: A lot of the tension in this book revolves around Moose's friendships. For the most part Moose truly wants to be friends with everyone. However in trying to please everyone he finds that no one is happy with him. Moose learns that it true friends, like he has on the island, will accept him for who he is and he doesn't have to pretend to agree with everyone and like everything they do. As this books target audience is pre-teens this is a relevant topic to approach with them. What does the Bible say about friendship? Is it possible to be friends with those who don't share my beliefs or moral values? What if I don't have any friends? It is important to always direct their hearts and minds back to the gospel and the truths of Scripture. Romans 12:18 tells us to strive to live in peace with all people. While this doesn't mean that we abandon our beliefs, we can strive toward good relationships with unbelievers, after all, isn't our purpose here on earth to share the gospel with unbelievers? If we never allow our kids to be around unbelievers, how can they share the gospel? Help your child develop gospel-oriented relationships with other believers as well. Prayerfully they can find friends who are willing to confront them on their sin (Prov. 27:6a). An excellent resource on friendship can be found in I Samuel as well. Help them to study the friendship of David and Jonathan. Help guide your child as they learn to develop relationships and always keep the gospel at the forefront of your guidance.

Age Level: 10 years of age and up

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