'The Great Gypsy' and Other Awful Mistakes on a Summer Reading List

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Summer reading stinks, we all know. But a slew of embarrassing mistakes in a letter listing summer book assignments from Long Island's Hempstead School District — which includes such books as F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great "Gypsy" —  has unintentionally managed to create interest in the subject.

Most are simple, careless errors that a basic Google search or fact-check would have solved. But, boy, are they embarrassing: Jane Eyre by Charlotte "Bonte," Animal Farm by George "Ornell," 1776 by David "McCulloch" (the proper names are, respectively, Brontë, Orwell, and McCullough). Hey, everyone makes a mistake here and there. Just maybe not more than 30 total, according to a Newsday count.

There is also the seemingly random way in which some authors got just a last name while others received both first and last. Why list the author of James and the Giant Peach as Dahl, and not Roald Dahl, and then turn around and list the author of MacBeth as William Shakespeare? Who shortens Roald Dahl but writes out Shakespeare?

A spokesman for the county took these careless mistakes and spun them into a story about unbalanced leadership.

"It indicates again that a stable administration is absolutely essential for kids to get the kind of education they need. Hempstead has not had a stable administration for a long time and the kids are suffering."

The comma usage in the letter, too, is quite bad. "In September 2013, your child, should return the completed worksheets, to their teacher for reading credit." It's as if the author was afraid of writing a run-on sentence and so haphazardly dropped in a few extra commas. Oh, it should be "his/her," not "their." Hell, even the school district's motto — "Those who read more, achieve more" — has an incorrect comma.

Kids, take this letter as a warning — do your summer reading and you can avoid being publicly humiliated on the Internet.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.