Al Capone Shines My Shoes, by Gennifer Choldenko


2012 Book 125: Al Capone Shines my Shoes, by Gennifer Choldenko (8/24/2012)


Reason for Reading: Sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts, which was adorable.


My Review

In this sequel to the Newbery Honor book Al Capone Shines my Shoes, Moose Flanagan continues his adventures on Alcatraz Island–this time he must face consequences for choices he made in the previous book. VERY cute and funny and every bit as enjoyable as the first book.

Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin

2012 Book 67: Animals in Translation, by Temple Grandin (4/25/2012)

Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month

My Review 4/5 stars
In Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin describes how her autism helps her discover how animals perceive the world. She compares an autistic person’s perceptions with animals’ perceptions, and contrasts them with how non-autistic people think. She also gives her own ideas about how domesticated animals can be treated/trained in order to provide them with the best environment possible. Overall, a very interesting book…It changed my perception of how autistic people and animals think.

Born on a Blue Day, by Daniel Tammet

2012 Book 65: Born on a Blue Day, by Daniel Tammet (4/22/2012)

Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month

My Review 4/5 stars
This is a coming-of-age memoir about a high-functioning autistic savant who also has synesthesia. It is rare for a savant to be as high-functioning as Tammet, therefore this memoir provides a unique and fascinating look into Asperger’s, savantism, and synesthesia. It was endearing to watch Tammet metamorphose from an awkward child into a much more secure adult. The story is insightful and inspiring…I imagine it would be especially so for teens with Asperger’s who are concerned that they will never be able to function in the “real world.”

The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd

2012 Book 62 The London Eye Mystery, by Siobhan Dowd (4/16/2012)

Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month

My Review 3/5 stars
When Ted and Kat’s cousin Salim mysteriously disappears while riding the London Eye they team up to find him. Ted and Kat never got along in the past because Ted has Asperger’s Syndrome and is difficult to relate to; however, they discover that a combination of his rational thinking skills and her intuitive action makes them an ideal team. It may be because I’ve OD’d myself on Autism books this April, but I wasn’t overly impressed by this story. I don’t regret reading it–it was a cute story, and handled the issue of Ted’s Asperger’s symptoms well enough. But I didn’t feel a strong attachment to the characters. I also felt that the mystery (and the way it was solved at the very, very end) lacked verisimilitude. I understand why the frantic parents didn’t listen to what the kids had to say…but I felt that the cops should have given the kids a much more rigorous questioning, considering that the kids were the key witnesses to a rather suspicious event. I felt that the kids endangered themselves unnecessarily when trying to solve the mystery. I prefer it when books develop a plot such that the kids MUST do what they do, rather than it just being reckless behavior. But maybe that’s because I didn’t have that sort of fearless independence when I was a kid. I would have MADE the adults listen to me, instead. 🙂 But like I said, I think I’m just OD’d on fantastic Autism books right now and so this one just wasn’t what I needed at the moment. Final recommendation: read it if it’s convenient, but don’t rush out to get it.

Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine

2012 Book 61: Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine (4/11/2012)

Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month

My Review 5/5 stars
Caitlin Ann Smith is a 5th grade girl with Asperger’s Syndrome. When her brother dies in a school shooting, she must find closure. Her brother had been her one friend who could explain to her how she should say and do things without insulting them. Without her brother, she has difficulty comforting her grieving father. This is a heart-rending story but, though it starts out very sad, it comes to a warming conclusion. I know children’s books about grief abound, but this book is special because it also shows readers how children with Asperger’s might seem rude when they are really trying to be helpful. Definitely recommended.

The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon

2012 Book 60: The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon (4/9/2012)

Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month

My Review 4/5 stars
Lou Arrendale is a high-functioning autistic man in a near-future world. When his employer starts to put pressure on him to be one of the first human subjects in a dangerous brain-altering experimental “cure” for autism, he questions what it is to be Lou. Is his autism part of his personality? What does it mean to be “normal?” Are the normals even normal? This book is full of deep questions of identity and categorizing of humans. It is also about mistreatment of disabled people by bigots. In fact, I thought the bigotry was a little over-done to the point of not being realistic…but maybe this is Moon’s idea of what the near future will be like. Or maybe I’m naïve. 🙂 This book was very thought-provoking and interesting, though I thought it lacked verisimilitude. And there were three (apparently) independent secondary characters named Bart within a 25 paged interval. Not sure what Moon was trying to say there—maybe she really likes the name Bart. 🙂 Anyway, despite my nit-pickiness, I thought it was quite a good book.

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko

2012 Book 59: Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko (4/6/2012)

Reason for Reading: Autism Awareness Month

My Review 5/5 stars
12-year-old Moose Flanagan is angry when his family uproots and moves to Alcatraz island so his father can work as a prison guard. Additionally, he must accept the responsibility of an adult sooner than he wishes because he needs to help his parents take care of his mentally-disabled older sister. I got a few chuckles as Moose tried to adjust to his new responsibilities, new home, and new friends and enemies. The book was both frustrating (because of Moose’s situation) and humorous at the same time. Overall, a light, funny, and meaningful read.