Chapter Books – Trouble with Mark Hopper

Mark Hopper has a sister named Beth, brown hair, and freckles. Mark Hopper also has a sister named Beth, brown hair, and freckles. While they don’t look alike, these details, plus their shared names, create havoc when the first Mark moves into the second Mark’s town just in time for the first day of middle school. Confusion, not surprisingly abounds. One Mark is an average student, the other an overbearing honor student. When misunderstandings put both Marks in the honors courses, the “average” Mark is thrilled to be considered an honors student, and desperate to prove he can keep up. A math teacher assigns Mark to tutor Mark in an obvious attempt to end the hostilities that have developed between them, and slowly they start to realize the upside to having the same name. There is potential for mischief…

This was a solid book. It wasn’t exceptionally great, but it also wasn’t bad either. The sort of book that you read and enjoy, maybe even recommend to friends, but which is not going to stay with you for years. That’s fine, we need books that fill the gap between classics and throwaway series.

The plot is fairly predictable, although I had anticipated a bit more hijinks. The author does a commendable job trying to make the “bad” Mark both sympathetic – you can sort of understand where his behavior stems from – and unlikeable at the same time. I did like the unspoken sentiment that leadership and being a team player are skills that can be learned by anyone with the proper motivation, rather than just innate skills that you either have or you don’t. This message is undermined later in the book, but that it was there at all makes me happy.

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