"The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse" Book Review

Updated on June 26, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Scientist and author, Beth enjoys living life in the slow lane. She takes time to enjoy the little things in life.

"So much beauty we need to look after."
"So much beauty we need to look after." | Source

A Keepsake to Treasure

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a lavishly illustrated book with over 100 black-and-white and colored drawings. Beautiful to look at, this volume could be described as a “coffee-table” book with attitude. But it’s much more than that; its folksy wisdom stays with you long after the book is put down.

It is visually impressive and includes facsimile pages of the artist’s original cursive writing as part of the design concept. It’s a book for dipping into rather than reading in one sitting. Each page is a delight with a detailed sketch and some wise words to savor.

About Charlie Mackesy

Charlie Mackesy's career has included working as a cartoonist for The Spectator magazine, and as a commercial illustrator for the Oxford University Press. His thoughtful and imaginative drawings led to commissions for art galleries, public bodies and charitable organizations. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, with its down-to-earth characters and memorable sayings, has attracted millions of new fans to his work.

Charlie was born in Northumberland, England. He didn’t attend formal art school but instead honed his artistic skills in the university of life. He has lived and worked in Africa, America, and Europe. He now lives in London, UK.

An Illustrated Book About Friendship

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse began life as a series of pen-and-ink drawings that Charlie posted on Instagram. There was a heartfelt response to his sketches; the illustrations and linked narrative touched a nerve for many people.

A surprise bestseller, this cartoon-like novel is about love, friendship, and being kind to one another. The four characters muse upon life and its uncertainties. The little boy and his three animal friends are curious about life and how they will cope. Their down-to-earth conversation reminds me of Winnie the Pooh and his endearing philosophy. This book affirms the importance of friendships and honesty in life.

The plot of the book is simple enough; four friends take a walk. The physical events that happen on the stroll are minor. The friends' discourse on the meaning of life and the journey of their friendship serve as the major happenings in this story.

Each of the friends has a distinct character. The boy is uncertain and questioning; the mole is philosophical and supportive; the fox is mostly silent as befits a predator, and the horse just gets on with the task at hand—keeping to the path and not stumbling.

"Sometimes I feel lost," said the boy.
"Sometimes I feel lost," said the boy. | Source

The Sunday Times Bestseller and New York Times Bestseller

This book is a publisher’s dream. Within days of publication, it topped the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic. It defies categorization; some booksellers have listed it as a child’s novel, while others have put it in the adult category of philosophy and ethics. The artist-author leaves it to you to decide.

Charlie Mackesy describes the book’s characters as follows:

"The boy is full of questions, the mole is greedy for cake, the fox is mainly silent and wary because he's been hurt by life. The horse is the biggest thing they've ever encountered, and also the gentlest."

There’s something in this tale for everyone; it’s easy to identify with the hopes and dreams of the four companions. Who hasn’t wondered about life’s future path? Worried about whether they will be missed? Hoped that their friends feel the same way about them as they do their friends? Enjoyed a piece of cake to cheer up? Been hurt or frightened? wanted to be liked or to loved? These are all parts of being human.

Is This a Book for Children or for Adults?

The book has elements that appeal to both children and adults; the illustrations are delightful and will be loved by all ages. But the overall plot is thin, and the storyline may not hold the attention of younger children. The strength of this book lies in its philosophy, and pragmatic homilies on overcoming life’s obstacles.

The design of the book makes it look like it is an artist’s sketchpad, and as such the letters and typeface may be difficult for a child or not so confident reader to decipher. If a clear font edition became available that would help widen the potential audience.

On balance, I would buy this novel for an adult rather than a young person. It is a book to treasure and keep coming back to, time and time again. In uncertain times, there is reassurance in knowing that others experience self-doubt, and are able to overcome it.

"What do you think is the biggest waste of time?" "Comparing yourself to others," said the mole.
"What do you think is the biggest waste of time?" "Comparing yourself to others," said the mole. | Source

Celebrity Reviews

  • "A wonderful work of art and a wonderful window into the human heart." —Richard Curtis (writer, movie director and producer)
  • "You will not be able to buy a more beautiful book for Christmas for somebody you love." —Chris Evans (broadcaster)
  • "Love, friendship, and kindness; this book speaks a universal language." —Bear Grylls (adventurer and TV presenter)
  • "Simply, the world needs Charlie's work right now." —Miranda Hart (writer, actor and comedian)

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • Suchismita pradhan profile image

    Suchismita Pradhan 

    6 weeks ago from India

    Interesting book.I will definitely get one for me.Thanks for sharing.

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    6 weeks ago from UK

    This is an interesting review. You make a compelling case for reading this well-illustrated book.


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