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Gennifer Choldenko Books In Order

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Publication Order of Tales from Alcatraz Books

Al Capone Does My Shirts (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Al Capone Shines My Shoes (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Al Capone Does My Homework (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon
Al Capone Throws Me a Curve (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Notes from a Liar and Her Dog (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Break / If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
No Passengers Beyond This Point (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
Chasing Secrets (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Monkey's Secret (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
One-Third Nerd (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Orphan Eleven (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Snake Mafia (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Picture Books

Moonstruck (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
How to Make Friends With a Giant (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon
Louder, Lili (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Giant Crush (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Putting the Monkeys to Bed (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Dad and the Dinosaur (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Dogtown Books

with Katherine Applegate
Dogtown (With: Katherine Applegate) (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Guys Read: Thriller(2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

An author of children’s and young adult literature, the American novelist Gennifer Choldenko has been a writer for many years now, with an extensive backlog of work that she’s amassed throughout her long and illustrious career. Known for her wit and warm sense of humor, she has an ability to offer insight into the minds of her characters, bringing her narratives to life and providing them with a sense of meaning. Knowing her audience well, she has a gift for her clear understanding and handling of the subject matter, allowing her young readers to relate at a deeper more profound level.

Early and Personal Life

Born on the 20th of October in 1957, the future writer Gennifer Choldenko was born and raised in Santa Monica, California in the United States. The youngest of four children, she grew up as the youngest of all her cousins as well, marking her out from an early age. Taking in inspiration from the world around her, she would take ideas from the world around her and put them back into her later work.

Educated at the Brandeis University, which she graduated from, she also went on to study at the Rhode Island School of Design. It was here that she’d gain an academic foundation for her material, giving her work a stronger more defined basis to build up from. Creating her style and her tone, she refined and honed it throughout her education, building upon it for her writing career to follow.

After graduating with a degree in English from Brandeis, she went on to work in writing advertising for a living. Spending seven years writing copy, she soon decided to go to Rhode Island Art School, where she learned more about illustration and design. With her second degree she then went on and wrote her first novel, as she started to make a name for herself within the literary industry.

Currently living in San Francisco in California, she resides in America to this very day where she continues to write. With a lot more books to come, she always has something new on the horizon, as her writing career grows from strength-to-strength. Not stopping her illustrations either, there’s a lot more to come from this particular author, in both her writing and her designs.

Writing Career

Releasing her first book back in 1997 through Hyperion Books, she made her initial début with the children’s novel ‘Moonstruck: The True Story of the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon’. Illustrated by Paul Yalowitz, it managed to set the tone for much of her work to follow, through a bold and simple style. Working as a parody of sorts, it operates as a tongue-in-cheek version of the Mother Goose stories, which many slightly older children will appreciate.

Largely famous for her Al Capone series of novels, she charts the time of the young boy Moose Flanagan, as he grows up in Alcatraz. Set in the 1930’s it works as a period piece, following the boy during his time growing up there with his family working at the infamous prison. Taking points from history, it’s accurate and well observed, whilst also providing engaging characters and situations.

Not without her fair share awards as well, she has gained a large amount of critical acclaim over the years too. With her novel ‘Al Capone Does My Shirts’ she was a finalist for the American Newbery Medal, as well as the British Carnegie Medal. Managing to gain critical as well as commercial success, she’s gotten herself a huge amount of acclaim on a worldwide scale.

With a global audience she has not only garnered the respect of both her peers and contemporaries, but she’s also gained commercial success as well. Gaining a young audience as well, she has a gift for writing and producing work that resonates with her particular demographic. This is something that she’s become revered for, as she writes in a clear and accessible style that’s also simultaneously not condescending.

She has future novels planned, such as further titles which she’s currently writing in the Al Capone series. There are also plans to continue with her illustrations as well, with plenty more novels planned in her other franchises too. With a lot more to come, it appears that she is not stopping any time soon, as she continues on into the foreseeable future.

Al Capone Does My Shirts

The first in the series of ‘Al Capone at Alcatraz’ novels, this sets up the premise of this period piece, creating the style and tone of the novels to follow. Initially published in 2004 and reprinted again in 2006, this was first brought out through the Puffin Books publishing label. Introducing the main protagonist, it works by setting up the world that he lives within, along with his sister, creating the ambiance and overall atmosphere.

Moving to the infamous prison of Alcatraz in the early 1930s, the twelve year old Moose Flanagan has to make the most of things. With him and his sister surrounded by the most dangerous elements of society, there’s also a group of other children living there too. It appears that he has his work cut out for him when dealing with all the most nefarious criminals that were too dangerous to send anywhere else. Will he be able to cope with it all? Can he make the most of it? What will happen when Al Capone does my shirts?

Chasing Secrets

Originally published through the Wendy Lamb Books publishing label, this was first brought out on the 4th of August. Working as a stand-alone novel, it manages to provide another period based story from Gennifer Choldenko, this time set in the year 1900. With a clear eye for detail she once again brings the characters to the forefront, through a clear sense of both story and narrative.

Set in San Francisco in 1900 at the turn of the century, this novel takes place in ‘The Gilded Age’, as it follows the character of thirteen year old Lizzie Kennedy. Attending Mrs Barstow’s School for Girls what she really dreams of is a career in science, despite her school being a fairly snobby finishing academy that looks down on science as a career for women. That’s when, during a trip with her physician father around the city, she uncovers a secret involving the plague and that it might be soon coming to San Francisco. Will she be able to put all the pieces together? Can she save herself and everyone she loves? What will become of her as she finds herself chasing secrets?

Gennifer Choldenko is an American Writer born in 1957. Gennifer has primarily written books aimed towards children and adolescents.


Gennifer Choldenko was born in Santa Monica, California. She was youngest of the four children in the family. She was also the youngest of the cousins she knew. Gennifer remembers being called Shrimp, Snot-Nose, Short Stuff and a whole host of cheeky nicknames.

As children, Gennifer remembers that she, along with her siblings, were unnaturally loud. In fact, they used to make so much noise that it became the norm for neighbors to wonder whether their mother was somewhat deaf. It wasn’t fathomable for someone to contend with so much noise in such close quarters without taking steps to control it.

Gennifer admits that they all definitely had big mouths. Only Gina, her sister, escaped the trait, and only because she had autism; Gina’s ailment was a big part of Gennifer Choldenko’s life.

Her parents worked tirelessly to find more effective ways of helping her. However, there were no easy answers to the problem, and Gina was always a handful. Gennifer Choldenko has compared her parent’s attempts at helping Gina to riding a unicycle in an earthquake.

As the youngest, Gennifer was by herself a lot. She put her mind to good use, making up stories, words, songs, and even Jokes. Of course, because of her age, none of the things she created made much sense to anyone else.

But that didn’t matter; her imagination was growing and becoming stranger and, for an author, that was a good thing.

+Literary Career

In tracing Gennifer Choldenko’s literary career, one would have to look back at the time she spent at Brandeis University and the degree in English she acquired. Life after university saw her working in writing advertisement.

Her time was spent finding the best ways to make people give mortgages a second look or possibly even buy death and dismemberment insurance. The work was difficult, primarily because of how rote it was in some cases. She spent seven years writing copy until she began to tire of it all.

She eventually sought to further her education by attending Art School. Her second degree came from Rhode Island School of Design. At this point, her task was clear enough. She would get her portfolio together and begin working to garner more fulfilling work.

What happened next was a little unexpected but not completely unwanted; Gennifer wrote her first novel, Notes from a Liar and Her Dog. Gennifer seems to think that her best work is done when she should be doing something else.

Whether or not that is true, her first book was a hit, winning her the “Best Book of the Year’ Award from the School Library Journal. Later on, she would also win the 2005 Newberry Conor Citation.

The mother of two has a special place in her home where she has done a lot of her writing, a tiny room within which is the best chair she has ever had. A chair that is neither too big nor too small; neither too hard nor too soft; it is a chair that is just perfect and within which she can disappear into her imagination.

Gennifer Choldenko mines her ideas from the various curious moments of her life. For instance, it took a nonfiction book about rats in 1900 San Francisco to spark the idea for ‘Chasing Secrets’.

Gennifer Choldenko’s books have a wide appeal amongst children and adolescents.

+Al Capone Does my Shirts

Moose Flanagan’s interesting life takes an even more interesting turn when he moves to his new home with his family. It isn’t just the cement that covers everything, the bird turd or even the fact that they are surrounded by water.

It’s his neighbors. Moose isn’t alone. Along with his sister Natalie, there are 23 other kids on the Island, kids who are there because their fathers work as guards, cooks, and doctors for the prison, just like Moose’s father.

The people within Moose’s immediate vicinity are kidnappers, embezzlers, rapists, con men and every other kind of criminal you can think of. Moose’s neighbors are convicts that every other prison does not want.

But you don’t need to be the worst of the worst to get to Alcatraz, not when you are Moose.

You rarely find first person narration that is as beautifully done as this. If you didn’t know, there are actually children who lived on Alcatraz in the 1930s. And Gennifer Choldenko tries to put readers into the perspective of one such child.

Moose has to live on Alcatraz because his father works round the clock in the prison. He needs the work because Natalie needs to attend a prestigious and expensive school designed to contend with children like Natalie who has autism.

Moose loves his sister, but he also finds her complications are little irritating. He is that ‘okay’ type of individual, often ignored because Natalie absorbs all the attention. Even with his many responsibilities, Moose is free to wander and adventure in a story that is as heartwarming as they get.

+Al Capone Shines My Shoes

Moose Flanagan is adjusting to life on Alcatraz with his family and the hundreds of criminals that surround them. He quickly learns that life can get a lot stranger than it already has.

Moose reached out to one of the cons in the prison. He needed a favor. He wanted his sister, Natalie to get into a school she desperately needed as a special needs child. So he wrote a letter to Al Capone, a man he has never met, asking him to use his influence to make it happen.

And it worked; Natalie got into the school. Then a note appeared for Moose, left in his freshly laundered shirt, telling him that the job was done. Then another note appeared, reminding him that Al Capone had just done him a favor and that it was his turn to reciprocate.

This sequel allows Gennifer Choldenko to cover a lot of ground. Her characters actually move forward (in ways that rarely happen with the typical sequel). Natalie, in particular, seems to have settled into her new life, transforming into more than just another helpless character.

Readers are given even more of Moose, who you cannot help but love. There are twists, turns and a brilliant conclusion that makes this more than just another Children’s book.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Gennifer Choldenko

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