Book Review ‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’

Ben Miles

In his 2019 graphic novel, “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse,” Charlie Mackesy has the boy ask the horse, “What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” The equine without hesitation responds with one word, “Help.” Though this is a children’s book (for kids of all ages), it’s also a book of questions. When the boy poses this query to the mole, “What do you think success is?” The subterranean mammal has a simple two word answer, “To love.”

Mackesy has spent a career as children’s book illustrator and as a cartoonist for the Spectator Magazine and now he finds himself (or more specifically his book) to be a morale booster for the downtrodden and depressed, which is a great service in an age of that is plagued with the downtrodden and the depressed.

His followers include high profile people such as author Elizabeth Gilbert and Academy Award-winning actor Julia Roberts each of whom have been inspired by Mackesy’s simple storybook to share their love of his illustrations, his pithy narrative, as well as their own experiences of sickness, worry, fear and loss.

One reader conveys her experience of using “The Boy, The Mole,The Fox and The Horse” while working in a hospice. Having shared Mackesy’s book with a patient, she offers her appreciation to the author with these words: “Thank you for making some of her last days so touching and memorable.”

After all, “The Boy, The Mole,The Fox and The Horse” is ultimately a timely treatise on the art of kindness. Tattoos, wall-prints and readings of the book during yoga classes have generated an acclaim (and sales) that Mackesy had not envisioned. But as Mackesy says of his book, which has sold over a quarter million copies, “The success of the book for me lies not in the sales but in the loving response I’ve received from so many.” The mole’s answer to the boy’s question – “What do you think success is?” – is “Too love.” It’s also Charles Mackesy’s answer.

By Charlie Mackesy
HarperOne. 128 pp. $22.99


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