1,473 Pages


“The Highway Rat” By Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

The Highway Rat is an enjoyable and engaging picture book by the creators of ‘The Gruffalo’. The tale is told of a mean Rat that rides along the highway stealing food from the travelling animals as they approach. The other animals become fearful of the Highway Rat as they became hungrier and hungrier with no food of their own. Eventually, the Highway Rat is tricked out of town by a clever duck and he gets his comeuppance by having to work a shop with the greatest of temptations – cake!

Throughout the book rhyme and repetition are used to create a sing song style flow to the tale, this engages the audience and makes the text approachable to a younger audience whilst maintaining enjoyment for the adult reader. The book also displays detailed colourful images that really bring the characters to life. This book would be ideal for a KS1 class and could be used throughout the curriculum. Topics including thoughts and feelings, animals, food and even sounds in science e.g. echoing would all benefit from the use of this book as a resource. In Literacy at KS1 the Highway rat would provide a great example of rhyme and speech. The literacy elements of the book could also be expanded into lower KS2 when learning about characters, powerful verbs or features of text (e.g. personification).

Overall, the Highway Rat is a versatile and encompassing story that everyone can get involved in and enjoy time after time.

Reader's Reviews


‘The Highway Rat was a baddie. The Highway Rat was a beast.’ This book tells the tale of the Highway Rat; a rat who travels around on his trusty steed stealing whatever food he can from the travellers he meets, although cakes and chocolate are what he prefers. This plan works very effectively leaving the other animals in the book starving. The Highway Rat does eventually get his comeuppance, getting tricked by a duck into entering a cave that promises to be filled with an array of edible delights but in fact leads him away from the roads he once terrorised.


Based on the poem The Highway Man Donaldson and Scheffler (illustration) have produced another engaging, vibrant and exciting book that can easily be used in the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage One. Not only would the book make an exciting class read, the themes also make an excellent starting point for class discussion and investigation. The overall theme of stealing holds potential for PSHE based class discussion involving stealing, sharing, friendship, kindness and the feelings of the characters. The section of the book in which the Highway Rat is tricked by the duck could provide the starting point for an investigation about echoes. Asking children to predict who or what they think is in the cave also provides interesting discussion and speculation. The style of Donaldson’s writing; using rhyming couplets and pentameter create an eerie atmosphere that could form the inspiration for some writing of a similar theme.


Based on the poem The Highway Man Donaldson and Scheffler (illustration) have produced another engaging, vibrant and exciting book that would make a fantastic read for any children from about the ages of 3 – 7.


The Highway Rat has lovely pictures and fantastic descriptions. You will find it very exciting and will want to read it again and again.

Overall, The Highway Rat is a fantastic book containing beautiful illustrations and brilliantly descriptive language that I would highly recommend for any Early Years Foundation Stage or Key Stage One class.

Parental Guidance

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