Confession: I was browsing through Facebook and came across a beautiful handmade illustration of a boy sitting on a tree with a Mole accompanying him. It immediately caught my attention and I started reading the text around it. The text read "What do you want to be when you grow up?", "Kind", said the boy. The instant I read it, I was blown away. It was completely unexpected. And there was something inexplicable about the art. It may not make sense, but it had a certain warmth that pulled me to it. So that evening, I went to my trusted neighbourhood bookstore, KoolSkool and bought the hardback version of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (TBTMTFTH) by Charlie Mackesy. Now that I have read it, I can say it with some authority that this is a once in a lifetime book and reading it once is not going to be enough.
About the Author
Charlie Mackesy has worked as an illustrator on countless books, partnering with the likes of Bear Grylls. Now, with The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, he finally makes his debut as an author. The book is a heartwarming series of illustrations about friendship, love, kindness and so much more. The simplicity with which Charlie pens down such powerful thoughts is astounding and I am sure people will find plenty to take away when they read it.
The book does not have a story in the typical sense and is more a series of interactions between friends. The only arc that can be easily seen is how the boy keeps meeting these animals one after the other and they get added to the group. Each one brings with him his own set of ideas and quirks. To some people, it may seem like random interactions published together. But there is considerable depth in each interaction and I was able to relate to them to a great degree. That is also because each of the characters represents a part of what you know, resemble someone you have met and maybe behave like one of your friends. A small and fun-loving friend, a quiet seemingly introvert friend who is actually just underconfident, a tall, muscular friend who has the mushiest heart. The simplicity that I highlighted earlier makes it possible for people of all age to enjoy the book, whether you are eight or eighty, and Charlie puts it in those exact words at the start of his book.
The biggest highlight is the spellbinding artwork that evokes boundless emotion. In some cases, I felt that I did not need words and just the Illustration was enough to tell me a story. Charlie knows that and so he does this right through the book. On every one of those illustrations, I found myself staring at it timelessly, imagining the scene taking place right in front of my eyes. It was as if they were speaking to me. All I wanted was to jump into the scene and be with them. I cannot forget the joy and comfort I felt when the boy hugged the fox for saving the mole. Right at that moment, I could see the boy's smile, his tears and his relief. I read what Charlie had written, I saw what he had drawn, but I felt a barrage of emotions that were far greater.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse is a life lesson, an ode, a slice of life story, and an evening with friends, all rolled into one. I don't think I have ever read something that comes close to this in terms of how it made me feel. It is a perfect gift for your friends, spouse, kids and even for yourself. As the Mole says "Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses". So start by buying this book for yourself.
You can buy it here -> The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse