The Trouble with Mark Hopper

Elissa Brent Weissman, Author
Elissa Brent Weissman, Author . Dutton $16.99 (227p) ISBN 978-0-525-42067-5
Reviewed on: 07/13/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009

Weissman (Standing for Socks ) delivers a tried and true plot: two boys, archenemies at first, are forced to work together until they grudgingly form a friendship. The newfound trust is shaken when one betrays the other, but by the final page, all is forgiven. What gives this story its cleverness and humor is that both 11-year-old boys are named Mark Hopper; because Weissman tells the story in third person, the reader is constantly deciphering which Mark she is referring to. One Mark, a pompous know-it-all, who “wasn't smart enough to know that nobody wanted to be reminded all the time of how smart he was,” dearly wants to win the prestigious Mastermind tournament and, hopefully, his dad's affection. The other Mark, a shy kid who exudes kindness but struggles academically, longs to fit into his new sixth-grade class and surprise his grandfather with the top-notch portrait he's created in art class. The Marks clash until they realize that their complementary strengths make them a strong team. Weissman has a lot of fun with her two Marks—as will readers. Ages 9–12. (July)

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