It was only a few weeks ago that my eldest son dug out his book, The Highway Rat and chose it for his bedtime story. I then spent the next couple of days reading it to both of my kids and the baby bump of course! Like most of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s books, my kids loved the storybook and kept taking it back off of the bookshelf and reading through it again and again for themselves.
A few days later we then saw the advert for the TV adaptation of The Highway Rat that was aired on BBC on Christmas Day. I couldn’t believe it, this is because the same thing had happened with the Gruffalo when my eldest son was a baby. I had bought him the storybook and some gifts and a few days later the TV adaptation was aired on his first ever boxing day, which we both loved! It again happened with the Gruffalo’s child, Room on the Broom and The Stick Man. All created by the wonderful minds of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
Of course, we couldn’t break family tradition and not watch it, now could we? My kids and I were all equally as excited. Magic Light Pictures has a fantastic way of bringing Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s characters to live. They really captured the essence and persona of the beautifully written and illustrated storybooks. They have never let us down, so we knew that we were in for a holiday treat! The only downside I find is that the film is only 30 minutes long, and just like the Gruffalo, Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom and The Stickman, The Highway Rat leaves you wanting to watch more.
The 3d characters look perfectly like Axel Scheffler’s illustrations, from the notorious Highway Rat himself, tot the friendly rabbit, squirrel, and duck. They really do his work justice and you can’t tell the difference. I would be extremely happy with the work if I was him. I love Axel Scheffler’s drawing’s, not only in Julia Donaldson’s books but in other stories that he also illustrates such as The Tickle Book, which is one of my sons all time favourites! I think that Axel and Julia make the perfect work together, you really can’t fault them.
The Highway Rat was voiced by another family favourite, David Tennant. Although I personally did not pick up on this as he did a great job in disguising his own voice and getting into the character of the evil villain, The Highway Rat. I only noticed at the very end that he was the voice of the Highway Rat.
I certainly picked up on Rob Brydon’s voice as the narrator and think he did a fantastic job as he old co-star James Cordon did with narrating The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. The voices used in the TV adaptation contribute not only to bringing the story alive, but they also have an interesting factor to them that makes you want to sit and listen to more.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story of The Highway Rat, he is an evil bady as my son likes to call him. He is the ultimate bully who holds up and steals from everybody who he comes across on the road, and nobody dares to refuse his nasty demands. Because he is the Rat of the Highway, and whatever he wants he will take! Yes, the mean Highway Rat even steals carrots, clovers, nuts and even a nice green leaf from the other animals whilst he is on the hunt for his favourite treats, cakes, lollies, toffees, and chews. As the hungry animals become thinner and thinner, the Highway Rat grows greedier and greedier from stealing everybody’s dinner.
With all Julia Donaldson’s stories, The Highway Rat has a great moral tale. With one wise animal, in this case, the duck, who was on the menu for the Rat’s tea. The duck cleverly deceives him in order to save her own life and her friends. It’s a great triumph over good v’s bad, with the Highway Rat tricked and left alone and scared in a cave, he realises his wicked ways have landed him in danger. He soon ditches his ensemble and quickly reforms into a good character.
My eldest son loved this bit because it is a great adaptation to the storybook, and he was very quick to point out that this bit wasn’t in his book so his eyes were fixated on the screen eager to see what happens next.
When the Highway Rat escapes from the cave we see him looking meeker and greyer. He has given up his old profession of robbing on the roads and instead gets himself a job, sweeping the crumbs up from a cake shop floor.
It was nice to see the daring duck who had tricked the Highway Rat appear again at the very end in the cake shop. Again, this isn’t in the storybook, but it is a great adaptation and instead of any confrontation occurring between the two animals, it’s nice to see that there are no bad feelings or bad tension as the Rat and Duck share a nice little moment together. I think it was a lovely way to end the story.
Legend, has it that if you search hard enough you will find a Gruffalo in all of the stories created by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler pre-Gruffalo years. Of course, as huge fans my kids and I know exactly where the Gruffalo is placed in the storybook and on the tv adaptation. The kids love looking out for him (as do I!) Did you find him? He was made into a yummy Gruffalo Cookie!
Overall, we are huge fans of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. We all enjoyed the storybook of The Highway Rat and the TV adaptation did the book complete justice! We all very much enjoyed sitting down and watching the film as a family, and no doubt my kids will want to watch it again and again and again! I rate The Highway Rat a stunning 5/5 stars!