Macbeth and Son, by Jackie French

The dream shimmered as Luke struggled to wake up. This wasn’t right! It couldn’t be!
Suddenly the dream released him. Luke sat up panting, as though he had been running, not lying there asleep.
Not Macbeth!
That couldn’t be the Mormaer’s name! Macbeth was a murderer!

In modern-day Australia Luke is studying Shakespeare’s Macbeth at school, but he isn’t much interested – he’s got other things to worry about, like his television-star stepfather, and the scholarship he’s won to prestigious Saint Ilf’s.

In eleventh-century Scotland, Lulach lives with his mother and stepfather, Macbeth, who is soon to be crowned King by popular vote. But when Luke starts dreaming scenes from Lulach’s life, suddenly the distance of time is not so much. Luke is especially disarmed by the differences between Lulach’s Macbeth, and the story told by Shakespeare. Did Shakespeare lie when he wrote his play? And does it really matter?

Macbeth and Son tells the two parallel stories of the boys, with the reader (and the characters) becoming gradually aware of the similarities between the two. In the modern day, Luke struggles with the dilemma of whether telling a lie can be justified if it makes somebody happy. At the same time Lulach becomes increasingly aware that telling the truth can be better than bluster and promises. Each boy draws strength from the other’s situation.

This is an outstanding offering from one of Australia’s most talented writers for children, Jackie French, who weaves tales which transport readers to the time periods she describes. Macbeth and Son is an excellent read.

Macbeth and Son, by Jackie French
Angus & Robertson, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2006