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Book Review: “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy.

“If there were classes on how to be a good person, this book would be the textbook.”

Photo by Noelle Maxwell.

Charlie Mackesy’s “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” is a delightful treat of a book. As the introduction says, “this book is for everyone whether you are eighty or eight.”

As soon as you pick up the book, the attention to detail is apparent. There’s no dust jacket, instead just a beautifully illustrated cover featuring the title in copper-colored metallic script. The inside cover illustrations are probably one of my favorite details in the book – the characters are illustrated running along bars of sheet music!

Inside, readers will find plenty to enjoy. Full disclosure: I’m not ordinarily a fan of saccharine wise-sounding inspirational “be yourself” type quotes. They’re okay, but sometimes come off as a bit trying-too-hard and precious for me. This book is fresh, nothing is saccharine, precious or trying-too-hard.

It’s a collection of unique, gorgeous artwork that happens to center around words of wisdom that sound like they come from a friend, not an internet meme. Apologies for what sounds like a backhanded compliment, but truly, this book is fresh, the words of wisdom genuinely sound like they’re from a good friend and the book’s focus is definitely the art – it just happens to be art paired with words of wisdom and running jokes about the mole’s love for cake.

Illustration by Charlie Mackesy, image courtesy of Penguin Random House UK.

The art, Mackesy’s unique ink drawings, is a nice mix of black and white and color, both equally striking. In the introduction, Mackesy wrote that readers can start at the beginning or in the middle, and you can (personally, I started at the beginning). There’s not really a sequence, at least not in a sense that would stop you from picking this up, opening it to a random page and diving in.

I love the ending, which I won’t spoil except to say it isn’t quite the ending and the words “The End” are crossed out and instead replaced with “Sometimes, all you hear about is the hate but there is more love in this world than you can possibly imagine.”

Other standout quotes include:

  • “The truth is, everyone is winging it.”
  • “Being honest is always interesting.”
  • “Be curious.”
  • “One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”
  • “Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid.”

This is a book that anyone can enjoy and everyone should read it. One of the reviews on the back cover says, “Simply, the world needs Charlie’s work right now,” and I agree. Put this way, if there were classes on how to be a good person, this book would be the textbook.

Illustration by Charlie Mackesy, image courtesy of Penguin Random House UK.

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” comes out October 22 and can be pre-ordered through HarperCollins here.

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