Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Highway Rat

The Highway Rat

5.0 1
by Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (Illustrator)

See All Formats & Editions

Quick! Hide all your goodies! The Highway Rat's coming, and he's going to steal your snacks...

He takes clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel -- he even steals his own horse's hay! Can no one stop him?

The creators of Stick Man and A Gold Star for Zog stand and deliver this fabulous new story of a wickedly loveable villain who gets his just


Quick! Hide all your goodies! The Highway Rat's coming, and he's going to steal your snacks...

He takes clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel -- he even steals his own horse's hay! Can no one stop him?

The creators of Stick Man and A Gold Star for Zog stand and deliver this fabulous new story of a wickedly loveable villain who gets his just deserts.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The team behind The Gruffalo and other titles returns with a tale of a rodent highwayman whose “manners were rough and rude,” stealing food from those he meets on the road. Things look dark for this animal kingdom until a clever duck—who is also an impressive equestrienne—uses the Highway Rat’s gluttony against him. Scheffler’s drawings always offer plenty of pleasures: his bold ink lines and glowing colors give these pages a comic intensity, and his characters’ round, bright eyes exude a geeky earnestness. But this story feels like a missed opportunity. The Highway Rat always demands sweets and junk food from his hardworking, peasant-class victims (“Give me your pastries and puddings!/ Give me your chocolate and cake!”), only to receive the rather bland stuff that makes up their subsistence diets (clover from a rabbit, leaves from the ants, flies from a spider). Rather than make comedic hay of this incongruity, Donaldson and Scheffler seem chiefly interested in portraying the ho-hum selfishness of their protagonist and meting out a humdrum punishment: “And they say he still works in the cake shop,/ sweeping the cake shop floor.” Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

Praise for The Highway Rat

"This well-paced, rollicking tale is a guaranteed storytime treat." -- School Libray Journal, starred review

"Donaldson and Scheffler deliver a lot of laughs.... A treat." -- Kirkus Reviews

Children's Literature - Susan Treadway
Delightful fun wreaks havoc on every engaging page as a light-hearted highway robbery is told for children in descriptive rhyming verse. No doubt little ones will form their own imaginative pictures during story time read-alouds. A variety of dramatic encounters has the Rat Thief refusing to show good manners or consideration for others as his gluttonous appetite takes over. Hungry creatures are no match for his cunning persistence. However, Duck tricks him into a deep dark cave and rides away with heavy saddlebags on the Highway Rat's own horse. The animals are finally able to have a marvelous party feasting on what duck retrieves. Later, after wandering around in the dark, a thinner, meeker Rat makes his way out and actually earns his keep sweeping floors in a cake shop. Friendly illustrations are full of life even as the guilty Rat wears a black mask, cape, sword, and hat. He's not scary or mean even though he's persuasive and tries to intimidate with catchy phrases. There is great enjoyment with engaging language by the creators of The Gruffalo. Reviewer: Susan Treadway
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Inspired by Alfred Noyes's "The Highwayman," Donaldson tells the tale of a swashbuckling rat with mask and cape who stops hapless travelers and takes their food at sword point. While he prefers chocolates, puddings, and cakes, he steals clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, and even hay from his own horse. "The creatures who traveled the highway/grew thinner and thinner and thinner,/While the Highway Rat grew horribly fat/from eating up everyone's dinner." A brave duck in a red kerchief lures the thief to a distant cave, supposedly full of biscuits and buns. While he follows the echoes of his own voice deeper and deeper into the dark, the duck jumps on Rat's horse and takes the stolen food back to her hungry friends. Eventually he emerges on the other side of the hill, becomes a reformed rodent, and finds work sweeping the floor at a cake shop. Scheffler's rich, dark palette creates a brooding atmosphere just right for the Highway Rat's dastardly deeds, and his cartoon-style characters are a wonderful tongue-in-cheek contrast. Humorous details abound, including Gruffalo cookies in the cake shop from this British duo's The Gruffalo (Puffin, 2006). This well-paced, rollicking tale is a guaranteed storytime treat.—Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
Kirkus Reviews
With a tale that shares more ground with tales of Robin Hood and the Three Billy Goats Gruff than its inspiration, Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman," Donaldson and Scheffler deliver a lot of laughs. With a rhyming cadence evoking the hoofbeat pattern of Noyes' rhythmic verse, Donaldson introduces an anthropomorphic, thieving rat on horseback who steals food from all he encounters. He wants sweets but still takes clover from a passing rabbit, nuts from a squirrel and even a leaf from a line of ants. He grows fat while they starve, until a duck comes along. The rat threatens to eat her since she carries no food, but taking a cue from the Billy Goats Gruff, she sends him in search of her sister, who supposedly has a hoard of "biscuits and buns aplenty" hidden in a cave. Led there, he calls into the cave, mistaking the echo as the sister's response with a list of goodies. When he goes to find the treats, the crafty duck channels Robin Hood to steal back his saddlebags of food for the other animals, leaving the rat to wander blindly through the dark cave. Throughout, humorous illustrations obscure any sense of danger in the story, instead provoking pleasure. In an ending that matches the entire book's comic tone, the rat secures a job cleaning a bakery, leaving the others free of his thieving ways. A treat. (Picture book. 3-7)

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.30(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.40(d)
AD850L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Julia Donaldson served as the UK Children's Laureate from 2011 to 2013 and has written many bestselling and beloved picture books and novels for young readers. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with her husband, Malcolm.

Axel Scheffler's award-winning books include Room on the Broom, The Snail and the Whale, and The Gruffalo. His illustrations have been published in more than thirty countries. He lives in London, England.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Highway Rat: A Tale of Stolen Snacks 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
wnwilson520 More than 1 year ago
My 3 & 4 year old recite this book at least 4 times a day! They recite it to each other, to our cat, our dog, our friends and family....anyone who will listen! They love the story, Julia's rhymes are fantastic and her books have been a favorite of my children's always. Looking forward to more books from her! Would highly recommend!