Al Capone Does My Shirts
Chapters 1-10 questions
Describe the setting of the novel, including location, time period, who lives there and why.
The setting of the novel is Alcatraz Island, located off the coast of California, in 1935. There are also 23 children and their parents living on the island because their fathers work as guard, cooks, doctors, and electricians at the prison.
Identify the narrator of the story. What is unusual about his appearance?
Matthew “Moose” Flanagan is the narrator of the story. He used to be a runty little kid, but now he is almost six feet tall, taller than his dad.
Why have the Flanagan’s moved to Alcatraz Island?
Moose’s sister, Natalie has some type of mental illness, so the family has moved to Alcatraz so Natalie can attend the Esther P. Marinoff School, for children with special needs.
How does Moose feel about moving and living on Alcatraz Island?
Moose is not happy with the move. He misses his best friend, Pete, and is afraid of the prisoners.
Why is Mr. Flanagan too busy to spend time with Moose? Why can’t Mr. Flanagan take Moose to work or show him the cell house?
Mr. Flanagan has to go to work. He has two jobs at the prison, one as an electrician and another as a guard. He cannot take Moose to work with him because all of the prisoners’ areas are off limits.
What happens when Moose tells his father that it is not fair that he can take Natalie out, but does not have time for Moose?
Moose regrets saying this as soon as it comes out, because he knows that his mother will be upset and thinks that Moose should understand that Natalie has special needs and requires more attention.
What had embarrassed Moose on the train ride?
Moose had gone to the bathroom and when he returned, Natalie was throwing one of her tantrums, kicking and screaming, tearing down the curtain and scattering her buttons down the aisle. Everyone was upset and watching. Finally, Mrs. Flanagan had to sit on Natalie to get her under control. Moose was embarrassed by boh Natalie’s and his mother’s behavior.
Mrs. Flanagan leaves Moose in charge of Natalie while she goes to the grocery store. Why does she tell Moose to take good care of Natalie?
Although Natalie appears to be content, Mrs. Flanagan knows that she can fly into a tantrum at any time and for no reason, just as she had done on the train the day before.
Identify and describe the little girl who comes to the Flanagans’ door? Why has she come?
A 7 year old girl named Theresa Mattaman shows up at the door to meet Moose and Natalie, and show them around. She is a very persistent little girl with black curly hair and is missing half her teeth.
What is unusual about Natalie’s age and birthday?
Moose tells Theresa that Natalie is 10, but this is not so. Moose’s mom has a birthday party for Natalie every year and every year, she turns 10 again.
Why does Natalie’s mother want her to be younger than Moose, even though she is truly the older sibling?
Because of Natalie’s disability, she cannot do the same things as childen her age, so it was easier for Moose’s mom to say that Natalie was younger than Moose. Also, Mrs. Flanagan could feel happy for each new thing that Moose had done rather than be upset about the things Natalie could not do.
Where does Theresa take Moose and Natalie on their first sightseeing trip on the island?
Theresa takes them to the morgue
What has Theresa made for Moose?
Theresa has made a card for Moose. The card is a statistics card, much like a baseball card, with a map and information about Al Capone, an inmate at the prison.
Other than Al Capone, what other prisoners are located at the prison according to Theresa?
Machine Gun Kelly and Roy Gardner, both infamous men during the 1930s.
Piper Williams, as described by Moose, is a “looker”. She is very pretty. However, she is bossy, rude and mean. Piper reports everything she hears and sees to her father, the prison ward.
What does Piper ask about Natalie, and how does Moose react?
Piper realizes that Natalie is different and asks if Natalie is retarded or stupid. Moose gets very angry about the rudeness of the questions. He is also worried that Piper will tell her father about Natalie and it will have a negative impact on his father working at the prison.
What special ability does Natalie possess?
Natalie is a whiz when it comes to numbers. She can do complex math in her head.
Why is Mrs. Flanagan packing Natalie’s suitcase?
Today is the day that Natalie is going to the Esther P. Marinoff School.
Why had Moose been sent to stay with his Gram when he was six years old?
Moose’s mom packed him up and sent him to live with his grandma because a psychiatrist told her that Natalie needed more attention.
Why does Mr. Flanagan bring a copy of McGregror’s Illustrated Animal Book along for the boat ride?
Nothing pleases Natalie more than to have her father read the indexes of books to her.
When Natalie sees her mother crying over the toddler on the boat, what happens?
Natalie closes herself off to the rest of the family. She curls up into a ball on the seat and will not move, even though it is time to get off the boat.
How does Moose get Natalie off the boat?
Moose intentionally begins to make mistakes in reading the index to Natalie. This gets Natalie moving and following him off the boat.
Why does it upset Moose when Natalie takes his hand?
Moose doesn’t like the idea of sending Natalie away to school. He thinks it is wrong and just another of his mother’s crazy ideas to cure Natalie. When Natalie takes his hand, which is something she does not normally do, he feels as if he is doing something wrong.
When Moose and his family get back from the Esther P. Marinoff School, what is waiting for them?
A note from the warden, telling Mr. Flanagan to send Moose to see him, is hanging from the door.
What do Moose and his father discuss while playing catch? Why is Moose angry?
Moose asks his father how long they have to stay at Alcatraz and his father tells him that is where they live now. Moose is angry because his life has changed; he misses his friends and resents the fact that his mother made the family move.
How does Mr. Flanagan react when Moose says that Natalie does not like it at the new school?
Mr. Flanagan gets upset and refuses to talk to Moose about Natalie or the school.
Who does the laundry and dams socks on Alcatraz?
The convicts do the laundry and darn socks.
What is unusual about the warden wanting to see Moose? What does the warden talk about and why does it concern Moose?
Normally the warden does not talk to civilians when they arrive but at Piper’s suggestion he makes an exception with Moose. The warden talks about the rules of the island, and what Moose can and cannot do. Moose’s father could loose his job if Moose does anything wrong, he also mentions being able to keep Natalie in school, which Moose realizes is another threat.
Who else is in the meeting with Moose and the warden?
Piper is also in the meeting.
What does the warden ask Moose to do that he cannot refuse?
The warden asks Moose to help Piper carry her many projects and whatnots to and from school.
Describe Moose’s first day of seventh grade in his new school.
Moose’s first day at school is not going well for him. He is embarrassed because he is asked if he is repeating the 7th grade because of his size. He is also required to give a 2 minute speech about what he did over Christmas. When he walks back to his seat, he trips and spills his inkwell, the ink runs through the cracks on the desk staining his pants.
Why does Moose write a note to Scout? What is the outcome?
Moose sees a baseball glove under Scout’s desk and sens a note asking if he plays ball. Scout answers, telling Moose that there is a game after school and they need players.
What surprises Moose when Piper tells the class what she did over Christmas vacation? How does this create a problem for Moose?
Piper talks about Alcatraz and Al Capone, specifically what her father told Moose never to do. Piper also tells the class that Moose is from Alcatraz, so he will have to break the rule and say something about Alcatraz or look like a fool to his new classmates.
What is Piper’s “project”?
Piper is going to sell the Alcatraz laundry service to students at her school to make money.
What happens at the South Field that changes Moose’s feelings about moving to Alcatraz?
When Moose arrives at the South Field to play baseball, the other guys greet him as the Alcatraz boy. The boys ask him questions about the prison, making jokes and treating him like one of the regular guys. Moose and Meeger make a double play during the game, which is a first for Moose. Scout tells Moose they play ball every Monday. After making new friends and playing baseball, Moose decides the move isn’t so bad after all.
When Moose gets home, who is waiting for him? Why?
Theres is waiting for Moose with a note from his mom, telling him to get his dad up for work. Theresa also tells Moose that they are late for a meeting with Piper, her brother Jimmy and Annie.
What surprises Moose when he plays catch with Jimmy and Annie?
Jimmy is terrible at playing catch. Annie had a great throwing arm, the best he has ever seen on a girl.
Why is Piper not at the meeting?
She is at charm school. She shows up after everyone but Moose has gone home.
Why does Piper call Moose a church boy and Boy Scout?
Piper calls Moose a church boy and Boy Scout because he will not go along with her illegal plan to sell the Alcatraz laundry service to the students at school.
When Moose gets home from school and begins to read, what happens?
Mrs. Caconi, the lady by whose door they pay phone is located, knocks on the door to tell the Flanagan they have a phone call.
Who is calling and what is the phone call about?
The phone call is from Mr. Purdy, the headmaster at the Esther P. Marinoff School where Natalie is boarding. Mr. Purdy has called to let Natalie’s parents know that it is not working out and they need to come get her immediately.
Who does Moose tell about the phone call and why?
Moose tells his father about the call because he knows that his mother will be devastated by the news. She believes going to the Esther P. Marinoff School is Natalie’s chance to get well.