Magic Light Pictures — the Oscar nominated and BAFTA award-winning production company behind The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child and Stick Man — has announced it is crafting an animated adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s children’s book The Highway Rat, set to premiere on BBC One at Christmas in 2017.
The half-hour animated special, now in production, is the tale of a greedy rat who robs animals along the highway of their food: clover from a rabbit, nuts from a squirrel, a leaf from some ants — he even steals his own horse’s hay! But what the rat really craves is cakes and sugary treats, and it’s his sweet tooth that finally leads him into a sticky situation.
The Highway Rat animated special is being produced by Michael Rose and Martin Pope of Magic Light Pictures, and directed by Jeroen Jaspaert (Stick Man). Magic Light is again relying on Triggerfish Animation in Cape Town to provide animation services. The half-hour program has been acquired by Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content, and Lucy Richer, BBC Acting Controller of Drama.
This latest project marks the fifth adaptation of a Donaldson/Scheffler book by Magic Light Pictures, the most recent being Stick Man, which premiered on BBC One last Christmas. This television event scored record rating of 9.3 million viewers, and was the fourth highest-rated program of the day.
Stick Man also won critical praise and a number of awards, including the Annecy Cristal for a TV Production, Magnolia Award for Best Animation at Shanghai TV Festival, Rockie Award for Animation at the Banff World Media Festival, Audience Choice and Best Animated Film at the Singapore Int’l Children’s Film Festival, and a Best Voice Performance honor for Martin Freeman from the British Animation Awards.
The Highway Rat book was published in 2011 by Alison Green Books, an imprint of Scholastic.