The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse

By Charlie Mackesy

“I hope this book encourages you, perhaps, to live courageously with more kindness for yourself and for others.” Thus, the author, in his introduction, is uncomplicated and candid, just like the book which he is introducing.  And goodness me, don’t we all need a bit more kindness both for ourselves and others in these difficult and challenging times. This is a book about relationships, fears, hopes, courage, and kindness.

We do not need to look too deeply into ourselves, or too far into our relationships with others, for this deceptively simple tale to speak to us profoundly. Perhaps, in part, that is because we can easily identify parts of ourselves in all four characters – The Boy, who contends with both fear and innocence, The Mole, who has a firm belief in the consoling power of cake, The Fox, who is damaged and distrustful, and The Horse who is gentle and wise. This book manages to occupy that very small square of land between universally true and cheesy. “What’s the bravest thing you ever said?” asked the boy. “Help” said the horse. “Asking for help isn’t giving up,” said the horse, “it’s refusing to give up.”

There is a sense in which this book is for all of us. But there is another sense in which this book is especially for those who have chosen to provide care as a profession. Proper caring costs. And sometimes that well within us which we draw upon to provide proper care can feel as if it has dried up. Taking a bit of time out with this book and reflecting on some of the messages within its pages, could help to replenish that well.

There is a further dimension to this book, which is the accompanying sketches, by the author. It is quite extraordinary how much powerful emotion can be conveyed by a few sensitively crafted lines. These sketches do not simply complement the words, they convey the depth of meaning in a further dimension.

This is a book for all those from eight to eighty and beyond. I cannot do better than to leave you with one final quote – “To be honest, I often feel that I have nothing interesting to say,” said the fox. “Being honest is always interesting,” said the horse.

Dr John Wilson