The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

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The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A rollicking rhyme with the wonderful illustrations accompanying it that you'd expect from this author/illustrator power combination! Lots of fun!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Alison Green Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1407124384

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When you see a new book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler you know it's already set to be a best seller and that you're in for a treat! Here Donaldson takes the refrain from The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and weaves it into a story about a rather naughty rat who just can't stop stealing everyone else's food!

Do you know the poem of The Highwayman? It has a wonderful horses' hooves rhythm to it - this is how it begins: The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding - riding - riding - The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door. In this story, Donaldson cleverly uses the same refrain for her tale about a highway rat, a bit of a baddie, who stops animals along the road and steals their food from them. He's always hopeful for something very yummy as he calls out Give me your pastries and puddings! Give me your chocolate and cake! For I am the rat of the Highway, The Highway - the Highway - Yes I am the Rat of the Highway, and whatever I want I take. Usually though the animals have some clover or nuts or even just a leaf, but the Highway Rat takes it all anyway and gets horribly fat from eating everyone's dinner!

One day he meets a duck, and since the duck has no food the rat decides that he will eat the duck! This duck is smart, however, and claims to have a sister who lives in a deep, dark cave at the top of a hill and that she has lots of biscuits and buns and yummy things to eat! So the duck leads the way to a big dark cave and, using the echo from the cave, convinces the rat to go in and get the food. Clever old duck then steals the Highway rat's horse, goes to find all the other starving animals and they all share all the goodies in the rat's saddlebags. And what of the rat? Well, he keeps looking and looking in the cave until he wanders right through to the other side of the hill. He is thin and hungry and no longer able to be a Highway Rat so he lands himself a job in a cake shop, sweeping up the floor!

The story here works really well. It's funny to see the rat trying to steal everyone's food, and even better when he gets his comeuppance at the end. Axel Scheffler's illustrations are, as always, really well done. I love the sad expressions on the animals as they are robbed as well as the Highway Rat's horse rolling his eyes as the Rat holds up an army of ants who have only one leaf to eat!

Because of the rhyming pattern the story runs along at a good pace, and it's fun to read aloud. The repetition, always popular with little ones, is well done and there weren't any awkward rhymes which is my bugbear with rhyming books normally. My daughter enjoyed listening, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it too! Recommended for nursery-age toddlers and older kids too.

You might also enjoy The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson which was one of my favourites to read aloud during story time at playgroup, or Stick Man by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Buy The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at Amazon.com.


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