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Exclusive Book Cover Reveal: AL CAPONE THROWS ME A CURVE by Gennifer Choldenko

Gennifer Choldenko’s Alcatraz series began memorably – with a Newbery honor.

Al Capone Does My Shirts

Today, we have a first look at the cover of the fourth book in the series – Al Capone Throws Me a Curve (coming May 8th, 2018). But is this the final book? And what creativity tricks and hot beverages have helped fuel the series? I talked to Gennifer about these things . . .

Travis: After Al Capone Does My Homework did you think you’d be returning to Alcatraz?

Gennifer: The journey to Al Capone Throws Me a Curve was full of surprising twists. I loved how Al Capone Does My Homework ended, but it wasn’t the ending I wanted for the series. When Al Capone Does My Homework had launched one of my editors suggested I might write a novel from the point of view of another Alcatraz character: Jimmy Mattaman. So, I gave that a try. It didn’t take long to realize I had no compelling reason to write from Jimmy’s point of view. All of those pages ended up in the digital equivalent of a crumpled up pile on my floor. But, somewhere in that struggle, the fact that I had wanted another ending for the series began to seriously bother me and I became committed to writing one last book.

Travis: So, is this the end of the series?

Gennifer: I don’t have plans to write another book in the Tales from Alcatraz series. But writing is not tax accounting. Unexpected ideas burble up from the dark swamp of my subconscious.

My answer then . . . maybe.

Travis: Never say never, eh? What’s something in you do in your writing process that’s weird but you can’t write without doing?

I love to write in airports.

Travis: Wow, really?

Gennifer: Of course, I can write other places, but airports are my favorite writing spot. There’s something about the lines of people snaking through the seats, the beeping vehicles, the overstuffed backpacks, the blaring flight announcements, the bleary-eyed passengers staring vacantly into their phones that totally makes the writing experience for me.

A few months ago I was on a panel with one of my all-time favorite writer/illustrators: William Joyce. It turns out, he loves to work at the airport too.

Travis: Never heard of airport writing before. Okay, last question: What snack puts you in peak creativity mode?

The first cup of coffee in the morning is definitely my secret sauce. I make certain that I’m set up to write when the caffeine hits my system, so I can get the ideas down as fast as they pop out. Of course I write other times, but that is the time I look forward to every day. Interrupt me at your own risk.

I love that you consider coffee a snack. My kind of writer. Sorry to interrupt you, Gennifer, but let’s have a look at the cover of Al Capone Throws Me a Curve, which arrives on May 8, 2018.

al capone throws me a curve[3]

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. I love Gennifer’s Alcatraz books (and her other books, too!). So happy to hear there is a new one to look forward to. Can’t wait!

  2. Thanks for the great interview! I love this series and can’t wait to read the new book.