“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (illus.)

A beautifully illustrated children’s book about friendship.


Children’s…. Self-Help?


October 2019

Goodreads summary:

Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book based on his famous quartet of characters. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse explores their unlikely friendship and the poignant, universal lessons they learn together.

Radiant with Mackesy’s warmth and gentle wit, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse blends hand-written narrative with dozens of drawings, including some of his best-loved illustrations (including “Help,” which has been shared over one million times) and new, never-before-seen material. A modern classic in the vein of The Tao of Pooh, The Alchemist, and The Giving Tree, this charmingly designed keepsake will be treasured for generations to come. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Everyone loves this book. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I really don’t like this book. I was curious about it; that’s why I bought it. I like the colors on the cover: cream and gold and navy blue. Elizabeth Gilbert gave a blurb on the back, and it was the Barnes & Noble book of the month, or whatever; so I was like “Oh, it must be pretty good. I’ll buy it.” So I did.

But I didn’t like it. 😦

I thought this was a story. It’s not. There isn’t a plot, really. It’s just a kid and some animals walking around and talking about the most obvious things. I usually don’t mind books like this that are meant to be uplifting and hopeful with little sayings that can carry you through the day, and it’s nice that the sayings in this are paired with such great illustrations, but these messages were so obvious that they came off as trite.

I guess it’s because of the presentation, the lack of flow, why I felt like this about the book. We are supposed to believe that the characters are having a conversation as they are walking and these advice about being nice and kind and all that good stuff just pop up. But instead, to me the characters randomly say this stuff just to say it. There is no sense of flow to the conversation and no sense of companionship among the characters, so I found it hard to believe that they mean what they are saying. They are just saying random shit about kindness and acceptance that readers are supposed to consider wise and enlightening and uplifting but instead comes off as insincere.

Art style:

The only things that appealed to me were the illustrations and the presentation of the book. I like the wispiness of the illustrations. They are mostly just line work, as if they are stuck in draft form. I usually don’t like this illustration style, but I think it works well for this book and goes well with the script typography used throughout.

BTW: I lied. Two other things I liked are the fox (it hardly says anything) and the mole (because it likes cake).

Overall: ★★☆☆☆

I wanted to like it, but it didn’t work for me. However, I’m in the minority here and it’s such a small minority that I’ve started to think I’m a weirdo for not drinking this kool-aid; so if it sounds interesting to you, certainly try it.

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

18 thoughts on ““The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (illus.)

  1. The illustrations are lovely, but the text is too didactic
    There are many other children’s stories with”messages “ that feel much less shoved in your face!


  2. I 100% agree 🙂
    “Don’t be afraid to agree,” said the mole, “It’s how we connect with each other.” “Blah blah blah” said I, because I don’t care.


  3. I totally agree with you.
    We are all brainwashed in what we need to like.
    Do not feel weirdo you still have own judgement! I am really sorry my kids are compelled to have this book at school!


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