The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

A review of the illustrated book The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.

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The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy is the story of the titular characters and their growing friendship with each other, all beautifully illustrated with Mackesy’s calligraphic writing and ink drawings.

This is a hard book to summarise as it consists of short conversations between the characters where they discuss subjects such as life, purpose, identity, and happiness. There isn’t much of a story here, and it feels more like a collection of instagram posts that have been bound together in a sort of linear sequence.

This book is a beautiful piece of art. The illustrations are delicate and very lovely. However this book has been universally praised as moving and inspirational for all ages, so I had very high expectations. But after finishing this book I felt dissatisfied because, frankly, I expected more. Yes, it’s beautiful to look at. Yes, the sentiments expressed are all very nice. But they’re also nothing more powerful than I could get from a scroll through the motivational or self love hashtags on instagram.

“What’s your best discovery?” asked the mole.
“That I’m enough as I am,” said the boy.

“I’m so small,” said the mole.
“Yes,” said the boy, “but you make a huge difference.”

These are all good sentiments, but they’re nothing new. The style of writing and drawing reminds me of Winnie the Pooh, so I definitely appreciate that children’s literature often holds amazing wisdom that can be applicable to everyone at every age. I know sometimes it’s just nice to have simply-expressed reminders of good things, and I’m very happy that many people have taken great comfort and joy from this book. It’s definitely a book I would introduce to a child, I just expected a little more from something so widely celebrated.

Nic James thinks too much and always talks over movies.

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