Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Alcatraz by Nick Gordon: Book Review

Author: Nick Gordon
Publisher: Bellwhether Media, Inc., 2014
Age: 9 to 13, Middle grade
Pages: 24

Alcatraz, a new title in "The Scariest Places on Earth" series, is a spine-chilling book designed to keep readers turning the page. Divided into four short chapters, young readers learn about the famous prison known as The Rock, Alcatraz, which is located on an island in San Francisco Bay. Closed in 1963, Alcatraz is a spooky U.S. tourist destination today. Tour guides and visitors alike have "reported strange sights and sounds" while touring the facility. The Rock has long been known for its ghost stories and unsolved mysteries that date back to the prison's beginning as a military fort in 1853. But long before the fort's construction and its conversion into a prison, even the area's Indians had long believed the island to be evil. Readers will learn about one of Alcatraz’s most famous prisoners as well, Al Capone, and the eerie tales surrounding his imprisonment. Gordon's most chilling description of the prison is of an area where prisoners were sometimes sent for punishment, called the "hole."

Alcatraz is not recommended for the nightmare-prone reader. In fact, it might make a perfect Halloween story. Photos of the prison today and from the past bring a historical perspective, while the ghostly images and the artist's renditions of past occurrences could be viewed as frightening for the youngest reader. However, for those who love a good ghost story based on eye-witness reports, as well as those interested in the history of The Rock, Alcatraz is a great resource for young researchers. The glossary and index at the end are age-appropriate, and library and web sources are provided.

Copyright 2014 © Sharon M. Himsl


  1. I saw a cool thriller once set on Alcrataz, though the name escapes me now.

  2. Yes, there surely must be. Would love to visit Alcatraz.


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