Study Guide

Al Capone Does My Shirts Family

By Gennifer Choldenko

Family

Family is pretty much the most important thing in Al Capone Does My Shirts. And we'll prove it. Why do the Flanagans move to Alcatraz? So they can afford to get Natalie the help that she needs. Why is Moose afraid of getting into trouble with his friends? Because if he gets in trouble, his family might have to move. Not to mention that there are only a handful of people living on Alcatraz—those Flanagans really have to stick together.

But family's not always all it's cracked up to be, especially when you're a twelve-year-old boy, and sometimes it can seem like more of a curse than a blessing. Moose has to sacrifice a lot for his family, from skipping baseball practice to babysitting Natalie all day. But his story proves this: A family won't work right unless everyone plays their part.

Questions About Family

  1. What are some of the ways that Moose shows his family loyalty? Be specific, and turn to the text.
  2. Do you think family would play as important a role in the story if it weren't for Natalie's character? Why or why not?
  3. How does the setting (including both place and time period) add to the importance of family in the story? Give evidence to support your claim.

Chew on This

Family helps Moose keep his priorities straight and realize what's important.

For Natalie, family is both her biggest source of strength and her biggest source of trouble.

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