Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Children’s Books: Just MacBeth by Andy Griffiths

In 2008, Australia’s Bell Shakespeare Company commissioned humorous children’s writer Andy Griffiths to write a script for the company to perform as a children’s introduction to Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Just MacBeth is the resultant work, in print, illustrated by the equally funny artist Terry Denton.

Andy Griffiths is enormously popular in Australia for all his work, but especially for the “Just” series which feature characters Andy, Danny and Lisa. Andy fancies beautiful Lisa. In this story, he gets to be married to her. When the three teens have to prepare a scene from Macbeth for school, the witches’ potion whisks them into 11th century Scotland, where they find themselves playing out the roles of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Banquo. Danny, as Banquo, finds himself with a son who’s older than he is.

Andy rather enjoys being Macbeth, because as King he will be able to eat as much Wizz Fizz as he wants, order people around and gets to be married to Lisa. The scary thing is that he and Lisa make a very good Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, who have no problem in killing people, including Banquo/Danny.

This makes an excellent introduction to Shakespeare. Some of the Bard’s lines are used in the course of the play, and the meanings are pretty much explained. Let’s face it, Macbeth may be a short play, compared with some of Shakespeare’s others, but it’s confusing.

For those of us who are reading the book instead of seeing the play, Terry Denton provides hilarious cartoon commentary on the side of each page and even the page numbers are funny, beginning with an increasingly-disgruntled head of Shakespeare who complains about being the world’s greatest playwright, reduced to supporting page numbers, is replaced by a number of other page-holders, including a haggis, devoured by a machine and returns, defeating all other page-holders.

Fans of the Just stories will enjoy this once they get over its being in script form instead of a short story. Schools can buy class sets and have fun playing it out in class.

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Blogger Juanita Rose Violini said...

Almost seems sacrilegious but I suppose in the big picture it makes cultural sense. Sort of a wedge in the hyphenated minds of today's youth who have nothing to relate to from Shakespeare's time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 7:50:00 AM PDT  

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