Guest review by Jonah, Aged 11

Written by Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Tony Ross, Published by Scholastic 3rd Sept 2020

My Local to Me blog feature is all about local authors and illustrators living in Suffolk and East Anglia. During lockdown, my trust hosted a short story writing competition as well as a poetry competition, and I quickly saw how much talent was waiting to be discovered in our students. When a copy of MacBeth United by Michael Rosen and Tony Ross landed in my hands, I was so excited to read it and share it with students.

I passed it along to a talented young writer who I happened to know was a football fan! I asked if he would like to review the book and I am pleased to present it here! It is incredibly detailed and well written.

Macbeth United by Michael Rosen – review by Jonah aged 11 

The book starts off briskly and really well, as Macbeth turns out to be the hero and he triumphs in his first battle…or game… and injures Andersen (the striker for opposing team, North Road). This turns out to be a remarkably good move as, minutes later, with a gap in the opposing team, Shotfield F.C’s winger and arguably the best player, Malcolm, runs forward and curls the ball straight into the top-right corner. 1-0 Shotfield! The hurlyburly is over!

However, after this victory occurs for Shotfield, things slowly start to unravel, when Macbeth and his best friend Banksy encounter three mysterious men, who turn out to be scouts for Angles (an elite youth team academy). After Macbeth gets the role as assistant coach at Shotfield (as good as a Thane in the footballing world), he and his mother (Mrs Macbeth) become more greedy for fame. This makes the team collapse and terrible events then occur. Will the bad spell ever be broken?

When many thought Macbeth’s saga was all over, he came up with another mischievous way to cheat his way to elite level. When I was in the middle of reading this book, I remembered the tale of Macbeth and tried to work out how the author (Michael Rosen) would get the storyline to work using football. After a while, I realised how clever this book really is – such wonderful and creative links! 

Some characters that intrigued me included Mike Le Rose, the commentator from Elgin Radio, Cawdor, the midfielder for Shotfield and Costas, another man from Elgin Radio. Firstly, Mike Le Rose seemed so full of himself. He always butted in whenever Costas was talking about football. Secondly, Cawdor was shy and was kicked out of the team by head coach, Duncan. He never talked much and he never really got much of a chance. Thirdly, and finally, Costas. Costas was the person in Elgin Radio that actually cared about the match. I would say that the realism of the characters make this book a success. Goal!

In my opinion, the age category of this book is 8-12. Although the language isn’t difficult, there are some parts in the book that include technical references and things that usually refer to people that are around the age of 11 or 12. For example, there are little snippets of the book where two members of Shotfield F.C are texting each other. 

Additionally, there are some very interesting and novel parts when Michael Rosen uses italics to symbolise what characters are thinking but not saying aloud. For example, Macbeth is always thinking about what is next in his footballing career or whether he likes a particular member of the team. This gives you true insight, although you can still enjoy Rosen’s distinctive humour and style. 

Now, you might be wondering what Macbeth actually did to ruin the team. Well, the answer is a lot of things. Firstly, when the team captain of Shotfield, Duncan, is sleeping, Macbeth picks up Duncan’s phone and types a message saying that Duncan wants to join Angles, Shotfield’s rival team. In the morning, Malcolm and Rossi snatch Duncan’s phone and, when they see the message, the team kicks Duncan out of Shotfield Academy.

Secondly, he asks the referee to red card Banksy because Macbeth knows that Banksy can get in a temper quite easily. If you know Macbeth, you can imagine that there is lots of cheating, treachery and blackmailing afoot. 

To summarise, this book flies into your imagination – there is not an own goal in sight! Bravo, Mr Rosen! He shoots; he scores! This book, in my opinion, is 9/10. The reason why it isn’t ten out of ten is because I would like to have heard even more from the Elgin Radio presenters because Mike Le Rose and Costas were probably my favourite characters.

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