Newbery Honoree Choldenko brings her trilogy about a boy and his unusual life on Alcatraz Island to a bittersweet end.
Now 13, Moose feels more responsible than ever for his autistic older sister, Natalie. So when a fire starts in his family’s apartment one evening while his parents are out, he’s sure it’s somehow his fault. Did Natalie start the fire after he nodded off? Moose and the other Alcatraz kids don’t think so, but they find it’s not so easy to prove when Natalie is unable to explain herself. Meanwhile, jealous prison guard Darby Trixle keeps giving Moose’s dad a hard time for landing the job Darby believes he deserved, and mysterious wads of cash are showing up in the prison laundry. When Moose recovers a lost piece of his homework from the burned-out apartment covered in Al Capone’s handwriting, it provides him with clues to the source of the random money and the motivation to clear Natalie’s name. Choldenko consistently excels at penning pitch-perfect dialogue and balancing a large cast of original characters, and this title is no exception. But new readers will want to start with the series opener, as this is a true concluding volume.
A satisfying finale to what has become a cornerstone series in contemporary children’s literature. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 10-14)