Moose lives with his family on Alcatraz because his dad is one of the prison guards. His sister, Natalie, has some mental problems that her mom is not willing to accept. He also meets some new people like Piper, Jimmy, and Theresa. He has to baby sit Natalie everyday which interferes with him getting friends, and Piper is getting him in trouble by doing things like including him in a scheme to have people pay to have their shirts washed by Al Capone. Another problem is that his mom is working very hard to get Natalie into a school for kids even though she is really 16. His problems increase when he goes into the prisoners section of the island to look for a baseball, and loses Natalie. He finds her talking to a prisoner and wonders if she did anything else with the prisoner. He doesn't know how to figure out what happened but tries very hard to make sure his parents don't find out. This is hard because Natalie repeats the prisoner's number consistently.
This report prepared by Cloud City
When twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 after his father gets a job as a prison guard and electrician, he wonders if he'll ever be able to fit it. Back then, guards were required to live on the premises, in case of a prison break. There are other children living on the island, but he does not have another boy his age who likes baseball the way he does. He and the warden's daughter, Piper, take the ferry to San Francisco to attend school. There, Piper enlists his help in one of her many schemes -- to take other childrens' shirts (for profit) and return them after they have been laundered in the Prison facilities. She claims that Al Capone (the infamous gangster) works in the laundry room.
Moose makes friends with the other boys in school, but because he must care for his sister, Natalie, after school, he cannot stay to play ball with them. Natalie is autistic at a time when medical professionals did not understand autism. Their mother hopes to enroll her at the Esther P. Marinoff School, but various factors (her age, her mental difficulties, her obsessions) keep dashing these hopes. Moose tries to protect his sister and help his family survive during times of poverty. He worries about her welfare and must decide whether to let her organize her button collection inside (where it's safe) or take her outside (where he is unsure of how she'll be treated by other residents of Alcatraz Island).
After an incident between Natalie and a prisoner, Moose becomes frightened for her. He doesn't know if she can live in society. He wants to protect her but doesn't know how. Later, when she is rejected by the Esther P. Marinoff School (again), Moose writes a letter to Al Capone which Piper helps him sneak into the pile of letters meant for the prisoner. At the end of the book Natalie is accepted by the special school and Moose finds a note in his freshly laundered shirt.
This report prepared by Samantha S.