Prisoner in Alcatraz by Theresa Breslin

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Stoke, 2012. ISBN 9781781121245. 80p.
(Age 12+) Recommended. Easy Reads. Reluctant readers. Marty has been sent to Alcatraz, the prison for the most hardened criminals. It is located on an island and no one gets out of Alcatraz. When Marty, a skinny boy, arrives there he is targeted by Cut-throat Carter and Frank, two notorious prisoners. They need him to wriggle through a drain and make an impression of the key that will help them get out of the prison.
This is a very short novel that is aimed at struggling young readers and reluctant readers. However it is so engrossing that I read it in one sitting and I can imagine that anyone who picks it up will find it fascinating. I have been to Alcatraz and Breslin manages to paint a picture of what it was like to be imprisoned in those forbidding grey buildings. The prisoners faced a dreadful life, many were vicious and hardened and the dullness and conformity of their daily routines led to many planning riots and escapes.
However it is the voice of young Marty that brings the story to life. Although he has killed two people and tried to escape from prison, the reader is able to imagine what sort of person he is. He is easily led and his naivety is apparent and so as a reader I was able to sympathise with him. Marty knows that what he has done is wrong.
This book will have lots of appeal because of its themes of crime, gangsters, a notorious prison, prison escapes and homelessness.
Pat Pledger