He Just Loves to Steal Cake!
AThe new animated special
fter producing The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo’s Child, Room on the Broom, Stick Man and Revolting Rhymes, Magic Light Pictures co-founders Michael Rose and Martin Pope have certainly emerged as the go-to experts in quality animated children’s specials. This month, they keep the tradition going with a charming adaptation of a book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler called The Highway Rat. The CGanimated special — which features the voices of David Tennant ( Doctor Who), Rob Brydon, Tom Hollander, Nina Sosanya and Frances de le Tour — follows the adventures of a lawless rodent (voiced by Tennant) who enjoys stealing travelers’ pastries, puddings, chocolate and cake.
“Two years ago, right after we finished Stick Man, we were thinking of other works that would make great animated specials,” recalls Rose. “We came across this great book by Donaldson and Scheffler, who also did the Gruffalo books, Room on the Broom and Stick Man. I thought it sounded terrific because it centered on this swashbuckling rat who gets into terrible trouble because of his love of cake and everything sweet.”
Director Jeroen Jaspaert, who also worked with Rose on Stick Man, says the surreal quality of the premise appealed to him immediately. “You have this image of a small rat sitting on a horse, which is the cover art for the book,” says Jaspaert. “The notion of developing this bad guy/rat that we love to hate on this journey was very exciting. It was quite different from the Stick Man in our previous special.