Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson -- ADVISABLE

Donaldson, Julia and Axel Scheffler The Highway Rat 32 pgs. Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), April 1, 2013. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK.

"The Highway Rat was a baddie. The Highway Rat was a beast. He took what he wanted and ate what he took. His life was one long feast." So begins the tale of a thief who holds up fellow travelers with his sword until they give him all their food, even if he doesn't like the taste and the other creatures need it to survive. But when a helpless-looking traveler tricks him, he discovers his Highway Rat days are at an end. A humbler rat now, he spends the rest of his days working in a cake shop in another village -- admittedly not a bad career move, since the last page shows him eating more crumbs than he's sweeping up.

The structure is based on the epic poem "The Highway Man" and the text itself contains many allusions to it. However, it is not necessary for students to read all or part of "The Highway Man" in order to understand its more accessible counterpart. (Though comparing selections from the two may be an interesting lesson in poetry styles and the ways language changes over the years.) While it is questionable whether the bad guy rat is adequately punished in the end, the rest of the story is so lively, humorous, and fun to read that it's possible to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he truly has changed for the better.

EL--ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn

No comments: