From 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, TNα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Inspired by Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman, the dashing but dastardly Highway Rat (sporting a hat and cape that would befit Zorro) travels the roads on his steady stead, plundering anyone and anything that he happens upon. The bounty is pretty paltry—clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, a leaf from some ants—but that doesn’t deter him. He even steals flies from a spider and his own horse’s hay. But then a duck tricks him into entering a cave. After he becomes lost, emerges from the other side horseless and hungry, gives up his life of crime, and lands a job in a cake shop—where he can finally indulge in all the treats he only hoped for as a Highway Rat. The wide-eyed, brightly colored cartoon illustrations depict a masked rat that looks more goofy than menacing. With rhyming text that uses the refrain of I am the Rat of the Highway, this is a rascally natural for group read-alouds. Grades K-2. --Randall Enos