Al Capone Does My Shirts: A Tale from Alcatraz av Gennifer Choldenko er en prisvinnende roman som ble satt under den store depresjonen i 1935. Det handler om 12 år gamle Moose Flanagan og søsteren Natalie, som har autisme. Når faren deres får jobb som elektriker på Alcatraz, flytter familien dit og søsknene må tilpasse seg å bo på en øy som huser noen av de farligste kriminelle i verden!
Studentene kan spore de forskjellige temaene, symbolene og motivene som finnes i Al Capone Does My Shirts og lage et edderkoppkart for å illustrere eksempler
THE CONVICT BASEBALL
Moose seeks out a baseball to try and mend his friendship with Scout. He has had trouble making friends since moving to Alcatraz and it has been especially difficult since he has to care for Natalie every day after school and cannot join the other boys in baseball. Moose sees the convict baseball as his "in" with the other boys. However, when he finally gets one from Convict 105, he sees it as "dirty" and sees it as a symbol of how he might have endangered Natalie.
Family is a central theme to the novel and Moose's family dynamics play a crucial role. Moose has a loving relationship with his father but misses him as he works so much. Moose and his mother have a strained relationship as Moose resents the pressure she puts on him to care so much for Natalie. They all care for each other and make many sacrifices to help Natalie and the family during the Great Depression.
Moose acts as a protector for Natalie despite being younger. He understands her in a way that no one else does and is the best at dealing with the challenges her autism presents. Moose is often the primary caregiver, but at times he resents this when he wishes he could just be a kid and play baseball. However, Moose is always there for Natalie and advocates for her even if it means reaching out to Al Capone himself!
THE BUTTON BOX
AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS Themes, Symbols, & Motifs
ISLAND OF ALCATRAZ
Natalie's button box is an important recurring motif. It is her source of comfort and gives her a sense of control. Without it, Natalie feels lost. Moose understands how much it comforts her and is happy to allow her to use it when he is caring for her. Mrs. Flanagan, however, has been advised to keep it from Natalie so she can learn to cope without it. The struggle over whether to give Natalie the button box or not causes a lot of friction.
Alcatraz is an island off the coast of San Francisco and a maximum security prison from 1934-1963. Moose is not thrilled about moving there because of the isolation it presents. The island is also a symbol of the isolation that can accompany autism. Natalie's autism can cause her to feel disconnected. She has difficulty communicating which causes great frustration. Her family, too, is isolated as most people during this time have no understanding of autism.