Last Days of Summer Updated Ed

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Last Days of Summer is the story of Joey Margolis, neighborhood punching bag, growing up goofy and mostly fatherless in Brooklyn in the early 1940s. A boy looking for a hero, Joey decides to latch on to Charlie Banks, the all-star third baseman for the New York Giants. But Joey's chosen champion doesn't exactly welcome the extreme attention of a persistent young fan with an overactive imagination. Then again, this strange, needy kid might be exactly what Banks needs.

Curriculet Details
81 Questions
93 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 6th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining historical references, the author’s style and Jewish culture. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about tone and point of view. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of diction, inferences, and theme. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension. Teachers, please be aware that this novel contains mature language and mild sexual references. Please preview this novel before assigning it to students.

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Author's Note

"M. O." is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase "modus operandi," or mode of operation. It means the way a person usually does something. 
Keep this biographical information in mind as you read. It will help you understand the characters. 


Notice how the story starts off in an untraditional story-telling mode. It is an epistolary novel told completely through forms of correspondence: letters, postcards, interviews with a psychiatrist, progress reports, and newspaper clippings. Consider why the author would choose to tell a story in this manner. 
Brooklyn is one of New York City's five boroughs. As you can see on the map, it is located just south of Manhattan, the part of the city with all the skyscrapers.  (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the clues given, you can infer that the story is set during which decade? 
"Storm troopers" in this context has nothing to do with "Star Wars." The term originally referred to an unofficial military-like force (also called the Brownshirts, pictured below) that helped Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rise to power during WWII.  (This annotation contains an image)
The CCC was a program started by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to employ men during the Great Depression by providing unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments.  
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Which of the following words is the best definition for "ersatz" in this context? 
Notice how Joey's forewarning about Hitler and Denmark has actually come true. 
The Polo Grounds, pictured below, was the former home of the New York Giants baseball team, who played there from 1911-1957, when they moved to San Francisco. It was demolished in 1964. (This annotation contains an image)


Why will Mrs. Gettinger only speak to Sergeant Greenberg? 
Edward G. Robinson was an actor most famous for playing gangsters. He had a very particular way of speaking, as shown below, see. (This annotation contains a video)
Why would the author include so many pages of the same sentence? 
Why is Joey in juvenile detention? 
Here we see the beginning of a central idea in the novel. Joey is desperate for his father to pay him attention, but his father ignores him. 
Fifth Avenue, pictured below, is an upscale area of Manhattan. Joey's father and Nana Bert must be very wealthy to live there. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Joey make up an answer about what happened to his face? 
The Rorschach Test is a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are supposed to show their personality characteristics and emotional functioning. See the ten cards in the traditional test below. (This annotation contains an image)
Who beat up Joey? 
Notice how the author infuses humor into the correspondence between Joey and Charlie. 
Why might Joey keep getting the same letter back from Charlie? 
The Green Hornet, The Shadow, and Gangbusters are all allusions to old-time radio crime and adventure shows. If you're interested in hearing a real Green Hornet episode, check out the alphabetized shows at the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Summarize how Joey is able to get Charlie Banks's address from the Bureau of Vital Statistics. 
Joey's response that he's going to keep this up until Charlie takes him on a road trip shows that Joey is 
As you read the following "Top Secret" messages, can you figure out who Joey calls the Green Hornet? This section is a good example of the theme of friendship that you'll see throughout the novel. 
What do Joey's report card and teacher comments tell us about him? 
From Joey's mother's response, we can see that she's also got a sharp sense of humor. That's probably where Joey gets it. 
Why does Charlie write a personal response this time? 
There are different points of view from which a story can be told. Watch the video below to learn more. What was the point of view of the Prologue? How has the point of view changed in the 1940 section? (This annotation contains a video)
Watch the video below to learn about tone. The answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a video)
What tone is the author creating by having his characters swear so casually? 
What word is the best synonym for "prevaricating" in the highlighted sentence? 
By visiting the link below, you will see an actual New York Times newspaper from May 10, 1940. Scroll down to part two, where the smaller headline reads "AIr Fields Bombed," and read that section. Then answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a link)
What similarities and differences do you notice between the novel's account of the German invasion and the New York Times article's information? 
Consider how desperate Joey is for attention from his father. How might that need affect his interactions with Charlie? 
Why does Joey need a handkerchief? 
Why does Bierman beat up Craig Nakamura and Chip Reilly? 
What do you think will be the effect of Joey's letter to Charlie's girlfriend? 
What is the effect of Joey's letter to Hazel? 
What is the meaning of the highlighted expression? 
The Anschluss (Annexation) was when Germany took over Austria in 1938. Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), also in 1938, was a night of coordinated attacks on Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany. See an image of a destroyed synagogue below. (This annotation contains an image)
Notice how easy it is for Joey to affect official government records. Would that be possible today? 
Which of the phrases below indicate that the letter is written in first person point of view? 
Notice how even though the clipping Charlie enclosed wasn't really about him, it made Joey trust him enough to tell him the real story about getting sent to Juvenile Detention. 
How does Charlie's explanation of David Copperfield apply to Joey's situation? 
Now we have a clear idea to whom Joey has been sending the "top secret" messages. 
Why does Hazel decide not to tell Charlie that Joey never actually confessed? 
Why do you think these government officials keep responding to Joey's letters and requests? 
Why would Mrs. Hicks take a sudden leave of absence? 
Are Lutherans really a type of Jew? Of course not. This is evidence of the author's humor. 
Why does Charlie tell the story about the pitchers? 
Why does Charlie play poorly? 
For Jews who keep Kosher, there are strict rules about what can and cannot be eaten. For example, it is against the rules to mix meat and dairy in any way--storage, preparation, serving, or eating. 
A yarmulke, pictured below, is a head covering worn by observant Jewish males. Why would Charlie be wearing one if he's not Jewish? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the following phrases best illustrates Joey's need for a father figure? 
For all his tough talk and cursing, Charlie really does care about Joey. 
What is the effect on the reader to never see events happening in real time, and to only read about them through the lenses of the different characters? What would be different if this story were told as a traditional narrative? 
Part One 
What a sweet sentiment to end this section. When you started the book, did you expect Joey and Charlie to develop a real relationship? 


The real title is "Wuthering Heights," and the character's name is Heathcliff. What does it tell you about Charlie that he makes so many mixups in spelling? 
How does Joey try to convince Charlie to take him on a road trip during summer vacation? 
The author creates humor by contrasting what two elements in this note from Charlie? 
Joey's Bar Mitzvah is one way the novel formally shows the theme of "coming of age." Pay attention to other evidence that shows Joey growing up. 
What event is Joey describing to Dr. Weston? 
Below is a picture of a Torah. The Torah tells the story of God creating the world, the beginnings of the people of Israel, their descent into Egypt, and the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. It ends with the death of Moses, just before the people of Israel cross to the promised land of Canaan. (This annotation contains an image)
How is Charlie's reaction to Joey's news that he can't have a Bar MItzvah different than how Charlie would have reacted at the start of the book? 
There have been several references to Hazel's conflict with songstress Ethel Merman. Below is "the Merm" singing a song from the musical "Anything Goes." Note her distinctive voice. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Joey convince Charlie and Rabbi Lieberman to let Charlie participate in his Bar Mitzvah? 
If you visit the link below, you can scroll down to verse 9 to see the Hebrew with English translations. (This annotation contains a link)
What bright side does Craig see to Charlie participating in Joey's Bar Mitzvah? 
What must it mean to Joey to hear that Charlie will support him when he really needs it? 
Why is Joey tossing all his Lindbergh items? 
Which of the following phrases from the letter mean that Charlie had to pay a $50 fine? 
ERROR: The top secret messages should not have loaded here. 
Below is a map of Wisconsin with Charlie's hometown of Racine circled. (This annotation contains an image)
What are three details the rabbi includes in his letter about Joey's Bar Mitzvah preparation that are humorous? 
Do you think the rabbi will be impressed with Charlie's word choice? 
Why does Joey try so many different beginnings to his essay? 
Below you can listen to a recording of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland singing "(I Like New York in June) How About You?"  (This annotation contains a video)
How does Charlie's statement apply to his relationship with Joey? 
Keep in mind that Charlie is maybe only ten years older than Joey. Even so, he shows a lot of wisdom in the rules he sets out for Joey. 
What detail shows Joey's attempts at manipulating Hazel into feeling sorry for him? 
What evidence is there in Charlie's letter that shows how much Joey needs a father figure? 
Telegrams were sent using Morse Code, a signal comprised of long and short bursts of electrical current, or dashes and dots as pictured below. The original Morse Code had no signal for punctuation, so telegraph operators would put in the word "stop" to indicate the end of a sentence. (This annotation contains an image)
ERROR: these top secret messages should not be here 
Why does Charlie leave Joey at the hotel while he goes out? 
For all his gruffness, Charlie has a very nurturing side. 
So Charlie was just making it up! 
How does Joey's telling of the fight differ from Charlie's 
Mount Ararat, pictured below, is a dormant volcano in far-eastern Turkey. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Aunt Carrie trying to convince Charlie to do? 
A "kiddush" is a blessing recited over wine to celebrate Jewish holy days. The wine is usually held in a silver kiddush cup, as pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
Photoplay, pictured below with a cover from the 1920's, was one of the first American film fan magazines. It was founded in 1911 and featured stories about celebrities' private lives. The magazine is credited with inventing celebrity media.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Joey get hit by a foul ball? 
Why is it significant that Charlie is taking Joey to his hometown? 
What parts of Joey's letter show that he is becoming more mature? 
"Shabbos" is the Yiddish form of the Hebrew word "Shabbat," both terms used by Jews for their Sabbath, or holy day. A pair of candles are lit, usually by a woman, on Friday evenings before sunset to represent the light of God. 
Why can't Joey answer Mrs. Hicks's question? 
Satchmo is actually Louis Armstrong's nickname. He was a very influential jazz trumpet player and singer. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Charlie mean when he writes that God "looks like Hazel and Rachel and Harlan?" 
If you visit the link below, you can read Mickey Owen's account of what happened in the game. (This annotation contains a link)
Why does Joey list the check as from "Dad's secretary" and not from "Dad?" 
What are the odds that the boys would be right about Mrs. Aubaugh? 
Remember what Craig was planning? 
Why does the rabbi sign his name "Rabby Morris Lieberman"? 
How are Mrs. Hicks and Mrs. Margolis's comments on Joey's report card different than they used to be? Why? 
Consider how comfortable Charlie is asking Joey's family questions about their religious traditions. Do you think people feel comfortable asking about religious practices nowadays? 
According to Joey's essay, what qualities does Charlie possess? 
The New Deal was a series of programs unveiled mostly between 1933 and 1938. The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on relief for the poor, recovery of the economy to normal levels, and reform of the financial systems to prevent another economic depression. 
How does the highlighted phrase illustrate Charlie's transformation since the beginning of the book? 
What is significant about Charlie being named "Father of the Year"? 
What does Charlie mean when he says he and Stuke will be wearing "a whole different type of uniform?" 
Do you think Joey's attempt to manipulate Charlie into staying will work? 
List two ways Aunt Carrie's behavior toward Charlie has changed since the start of the book. 
Part Two 


Did you believe the letter from Mr. Demarest was real? 
This paragraph reveals Charlie's __________ about fighting in the war. 
Ah, now we see to what Craig was referring when he said in his message to Joey that the window was one thing, but his nose was a whole different deal. 
What detail shows how unappetizing the food is at boot camp? 
Douglas MacArthur, pictured below, was an American five-star general who played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in defending the Philippines. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the best meaning of the highlighted phrase? 
A "goniff" is a disreputable person. Why would Aunt Carrie say that to Charlie? 
What changes in Joey and Rachel's relationship are revealed in this letter? 
Does Warren's statement make sense to you? That the very absence of any evidence is what makes the people guilty? Why do you think the military and the public bought this idea? 
Did you know that the U.S. government really did hold over 110,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps for more than two years? Watch the government-produced propaganda film below to hear the rationalization for this inhumane act. (This annotation contains a video)
How do you know that Charlie is nervous about getting married? 
Do you remember how Joey pretended to forget "Japheth" at his Bar Mitzvah? Isn't it fitting that Joey is an important part of Charlie's ceremony in becoming a man? 
Camp Pendleton is all the way across the country near San Diego, California.  (This annotation contains an image)
How does Charlie respond differently to Joey's goodbye than he has in the past? 
Notice how it sounds like Mrs. Margolis is evaluating Mrs. Hicks on her performance, too. 
How does Joey's request for help and Charlie's response show the central idea that Joey needs a father-figure? 
Have you ever had to write an essay titled "How I Spent My Summer/Winter/Spring Vacation"? Does that sound like an interesting assignment? 
This sounds a lot more romantic than comparing her hair color to mud! 
If you're interested in learning more about the Japanese internment camps, check out the memoir "Farewell to Manzanar" by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston.  (This annotation contains an image)
Explain the poor conditions under which Craig's family is living. 
Remember that he is the Attorney General for California who advocated for the forced internment of Japanese Americans. He later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 
What evidence is there to prove that Joey had been planning to stow away? 
Charlie's reaction shows how glad he is to see Joey. Did you expect that? 
Charlie's third P.S. shows that he is really ____________ Joey. 
Do you think Joey is really meeting all these movie stars? Why would he tell Rachel he is? 
What are two things Stuke has had to pay for because he got a promotion and Charlie didn't? 
The Hollywood Canteen was a club open during World War II offering food, dancing and entertainment for servicemen. Stars volunteered to wait on tables, cook in the kitchen and clean up. One of the highlights for a serviceman was to dance with one of the many female celebrities volunteering at the Canteen. The other highlight was the entertainment provided by some of Hollywood's most popular stars. (This annotation contains an image)
Even though they are forced to live in the camp, what normal activity are the Manzanar residents allowed to do? 
You can see the USS Arizona in the photo below just after it was bombed at Pearl Harbor. She exploded and sank, killing 1,177 officers and crewmen. Unlike many of the other ships sunk or damaged that day, the Arizona could not be fully salvaged. The wreck still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, and the USS Arizona Memorial straddles the ship's hull.  (This annotation contains an image)
How do we know that Joey is still worried about staying friends with Craig? 
Clarence Darrow (who died on March 13, 1938) was an American lawyer and leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU is an organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." Why would Joey work Clarence Darrow into his spiel to the Major? (This annotation contains an image)
This is a reference to one of the most famous movies of all time, Casablanca. You might have heard some of the quotes from it: "Here's looking at you, kid" or "The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." (This annotation contains an image)
Even though they are writing a letter to Hazel, it sounds like Joey and Charlie are actually talking to her. How does the author achieve that effect? 
Who was supposed to have this role in the new musical? How do you think she feels? 
How has Rachel's opinion of Joey changed? 
Does this sound like a useless step? A similar name change happened in the U.S. in 2003. The French were opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, so the Republican Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Bob Ney, renamed the menu item in the Congressional cafeterias "freedom fries."  (This annotation contains an image)
From Stuke's response, what can you infer was in Joey's letter to him? 
This is a reference to another real historical event known as the Bataan Death March. After winning the battle at Corregidor, the Japanese forced up to 80,000 captured American and Filipino soldiers to walk 60 miles under terrible conditions--abuse, starvation, dehydration--to San Fernando, where they were stuffed into unventilated boxcars and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Capas, as illustrated on the map below. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Charlie have to come up with a code to communicate his whereabouts to Joey? 
This is an example of a type of figurative language known as a "simile." Watch the video below to learn more about it and its close cousin, called "metaphor." (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Charlie tell Joey not to write Rachel a letter? 
There are a lot of figurative expressions in this war bulletin. In your own words, as plainly as possible, explain what is happening with the New York Giants baseball team. 
There really were women ordnance workers, as seen in the photo below. With so many working-aged men at war, women had to enter fields that had previously been open only to men, like manufacturing, to keep the war effort alive. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Charlie not allowed to fight with Stuke and others in his company? 
What parts of Charlie's message do you find funny? 
List three ways you can tell that Joey is nervous about his date with Rachel. 
Do you think it's easier for Joey and Charlie to share their feelings by letter rather than in person? Have you ever experienced something similar? 
It is obvious that Charlie is really affected by Shiloh's death. It probably makes him consider his own possibility of dying. 
Do you think this is why Charlie built a relationship with Joey, because he knew how important it was to have somebody you can trust looking out for you? How does Charlie honor Harlan's memory through his relationship with Joey? 
Why is Joey wide awake at 4:25 in the morning? 
Such terribly sad news. How will Joey handle it? 
Charlie's actions are an example of which theme? 
Why would Joey be in Wisconsin? 
With what part of Charlie's letter do you connect the most? 
Notice that after Charlie's death, we don't see any more communication from Joey. Why is that? 


An epilogue is a part of a novel where time moves forward, often many years, and we see what has happened to the main characters. It is almost like a post-script or P.S. to the novel (just like in Charlie and Joey's letters). 
Notice how the author shifts back to the traditional narrative style--no more letters or bulletins, just Joey relating events. 
Who convinces Joey to go to Charlie's funeral? 
Are you surprised by any of the characters' futures? 
Think back to the biographical information included at the start of the novel. List two similarities and two differences between the experiences of the author, Steve Kluger, and Joey Margolis. 
Part Three