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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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This book was inspired by the poem, "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. The Highway Rat was a 'baddie' and a 'beast' - he robbed all the animals of their food, even his own horse of his hay. Eventually, all the animals are thin and hungry and the Highway Rat was 'horribly fat'. Then, when he tries to rob a duck she has nothing to steal, so he decides to eat her. The quick thinking duck tricks him, and takes his loot to share with her friends.

The text of the book obviously takes time to become familiar, but it is a nice story, with a good message and the illustrations are excellent. Like all Donadson's books, the text reads like a song or poem and asks to be read aloud. My children particularly liked the Gruffalo biscuits in the cake shop at the end, but there is more to this author/illustrator team than the Gruffalo, as beloved as those books are. I have a feeling that this will also become a favourite bedtime story given enough readings.
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VINE VOICEon 30 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I got this for my niece was is a huge Gruffalo fan,(also by Donaldson) and she was thrilled to bits!

The story itself is very clever - based on the poem of "the highway man", the "highway Rat" steals other animals' foods and has to pay the price for his misdemeanours from a very clever Duck!! Its certainly on a par with the Gruffalo in terms of storytelling and charactarisation, and the manner in which it's written is very clever indeed. My niece loved the rhyming style of the book, and loved the illistrations, which are also superb!!

The book is very well presented, with large text "woven" in to the illistations, and each page is not too text heavy to put off younger readers. The ideal reading age for this book is somewhere between 6-8 years old I would say, although a strong younger reader could also give it a go. The hardback version is also very sturdy and will hold up to many readings - which it may have to condsidering the way she's taken to this book!

All in all, a lovely book that made a young girl very happy and its an ideal present for both birthdays or christmas.
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on 27 August 2011
I was so excited when I saw that Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler were publishing a new book as their books are much loved in our house. I was even more excited when I got an e-mail to say that the book had been dispatched. I am so sorry to say that I think it's a bit of a let down.

The words don't flow as well as previous books. For example, "And the Highway Rat went riding - Riding - riding - " is found in a few places. It got tedious to read these bits. And then one bit of "For he landed a job in a cake shop - A cake shop - a cake shop -". My two year old lost interest halfway through the book, my three and a half year old sat listening but didn't look extremely impressed.

There was a page of forest illustration which looked like it was reproduced from The Gruffalo. It looked like the same stone, same trees.

I really think that I prefer Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child. Somehow Donaldson-Scheffler haven't managed to recapture that magic. Such a shame because I have been awaiting this book for months. I don't think we will get many requests from the kids for this book. A real pity. Wish I had just borrowed it from the library instead.
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on 7 September 2011
Based loosely on the structure of the poem 'The Highwayman' as another reviewer previously noted, this book is superb and is already on my little boy's nightly story list - he's 3 and a half. (It helps if you familiarise yourself with the poem's rhyme and rhythm in order to get the best out of reading 'The Highway Rat' aloud so only 4**** not 5 for this reason.) I personally love it and I think Donaldson has come up with another firm favourite.

The Highwayman This is studied by Y5 children (ages 9-10) as part of the Literacy Framework.
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We've bought a lot of Julia Donaldson's books recently - our 2-and-a-half year old teends to like them. He's particularly fond of the Graffalo, Gruffalo's Child and Stickman books so we thought we'd give this one a try.

Physically, it's a great board-book. thick, sturdy pages mean it's not going to tear, can be wiped clean etc. The illustrations are in the typical style and there's the usual hidden gruffalo which is fun to find.

It's the words that disappointed us. The story seems a bit weak, particularly at the end. And the rhymes are not the most fluid, with the rhythm of the story being very difficult to determine and maintain. Form a parent's perspective, it's not as rewarding to read as others by the same author and the story feels like it could have had more of a point / moral to it. From the toddler's point of view, there's not all that much to hold the attention. Despite several readings, when asked which story he wants our little one never asks for this one.
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on 21 January 2013
I love this book! I brought it to read to my reception class, the rhymes are great (some people said they didn't like them but I found that so long as you find the pace they're fab), I thought the book was going to be too sad at first, but the ending where the rat is actually happy because he gets to eat cake means it's still a great read. The illustations are great, especially the dopey looking horse.

My favourite thing about this book is that a lot of the boys in my class aren't interested in books or storytime at the end of the day, but the voices I'll be able to do for the highway rat mean that I'm sure they'll love it! Also, the rhymes and repitition will be good for the children in my class that don't speak english.

All round great book!
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on 25 September 2011
This is my new favourite to read aloud to my children. The language and illustrations are of the wonderfully high standard that fans of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have come to expect. In addition to a thought-provoking plot device, 'The Highway Rat' features a loveable villain, a clever heroine and a happy ending; everything that you'd hope for in a children's book.

But for me the particular joy here lies in the rhythm and repetition, inspired by The Highwayman poem, which make for wonderfully theatrical readings. As in other Donaldson favourites, the various animal characters are fabulous for those who like to have fun with different voices too. My two-year-old son chants 'Highway Rat' repeatedly at bedtime until we read this and I am so very happy to oblige. For me, it's perfect.
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The Highway Rat has been pilfering... robbing all animals attempting to use the road of their foodstuffs in a bid to find himself some tasty (and sweet!) things to eat.

This tribute to Alfred Noyes' 'The Highwayman' looks pretty enough, but really doesn't have the same kind of flow to it as past Julia Donaldson efforts such as 'The Gruffalo', 'Monkey Puzzle', 'Room on the Broom' and 'Tiddler'. The slightly cumbersome metre (and parts of the rhyme scheme) are lifted from Noyes, and combined with the occasional eye rhyme make this a bit less youngster-friendly than previous books. The story itself is interesting and quite entertaining, although the ruse through which the Highway Rat is ultimately tricked by a wily duck really isn't all that different from the ploy used by the Mouse in 'The Gruffalo's Child'.

Scheffler's pictures are typically appealing, with scenery and characters that generally belong to the same woodland-theme as those used in the Gruffalo stories.

Overall, this is a nice story - but not a favourite.
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VINE VOICEon 16 September 2011
I thought the book was lovely (as does my four year old) but it works better if you are familiar with the original Alfred Noyes poem for it to work. the repeated "riding, riding, riding" derives from the original and I think is brilliant.

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--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

I learnt the Highwayman as a child and it was my favourite poem but most Donaldson reading pre-schoolers won't know it so the reading adult needs to work on the metre when reading so that they look forward to the repeated phrases (as you do in the original). It's a lovely pastiche that I thought worked as well for parents (those that know the original) as children. I thought the only shortcoming is that it sort of peters out at the end - it was as if there should have been a better payoff and I thought maybe they were only allowed a set number of pages and had to wind it up. But it's good.
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on 4 February 2013
Julia Donaldson is a wonderful writer and both my children love her stories and the clever use of rhyme and rhythm which carries the young (and fully-grown!) reader along with her vividly imagined tales. This, in my opinion, is her best story to date. As someone who once had to learn the Alfred Noyes original ('The Highwayman') by heart, the way that Donaldson has updated the story - with a far more 'kid-friendly' content! - whilst still managing to echo the rhythm and cadence of Noyes' work, added to the joy of reading this with my children. As ever, this is beautifully (and wittily!) illustrated and destined to be a classic for years to come ... Worth learning off by heart in fact!
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