Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Macbeth United by Michael Rosen & illustrated by Tony Ross

Now does he feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe

Upon a dwarfish thief.

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth, 5.2 –

Macbeth United is not a typical football story. It’s the clever retelling of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Macbeth, through the action-packed drama of a youth football team, Michael Rosen creates parallels to each character and event with a modern twist. Those who know the original play will thoroughly enjoy making connections between the two. However, knowledge of Shakespeare is not essential for enjoyment of this darkly funny, competitive story of deception and dangerous ambition.

Macbeth plays for Shotfield, a talented team of young players, and he wants to be the best. He dreams of being a leader and taking the team to victory. When three mysterious strangers make a prophecy that he will become head coach and be scouted by an academy, Macbeth begins to think it might be possible. Encouraged by his mother, Macbeth puts a plan into action that just might take him to the top, even if it means hurting his teammates along the way. After all, “a ladder doesn’t do the climbing for you.” Success comes to those who go out and get it.

A chain of events leads to ethical dilemmas and questions of right and wrong. Cutthroat competition, back-stabbing, whispering and suspicion begins to pull the team apart and leave Macbeth wondering if he’s made the right choices. Is he a hero or a villain? Only time will tell as he enters a downward spiral of deception, bribery and ambition. Macbeth’s mother makes a fantastic “Lady Macbeth” filled with an unquenchable ambition for her son.

In the end, will the guilt of what they’ve done become too much to bear? Will Macbeth achieve everything he’s dreamed of or will his world come crashing down around him? And what about the rest of the team? Will they discover the conspiracy against them and retaliate to build their own success?

Macbeth United is an absolutely fantastic companion to a Key Stage Two or Secondary English topic about William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Reading this brilliant book after studying the original play will help children to develop an even deeper understanding of the plot, characters and motives through fun comparisons. There will be so many light bulb moments as readers make links between the two stories and understand Macbeth’s ambition from a modern, everyday perspective.

Thank you to Scholastic for this unique book!

Michael Rosen and Tony Ross have teamed up for more reimagined classic literature. Look for Bah! Humbug! and Unexpected Twist! from Scholastic.

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon.

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