A long-time friend of our website wrote to tell us that she had seen our best spiritual children’s book selections for 2019 and wanted to highly suggest one that was not on the list. "It should be for ages 3 - 83," she wrote, "but is considered a children’s book." Now that we have The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse in hand thanks to her recommendation, we instantly agree with her.
Charlie Mackesy, who writes the text in ink script and accompanies it with poignantly beautiful ink-and-watercolor illustrations, encourages readers to dip into the book wherever they wish. Every single page spread has wisdom to be savored, although the eponymous foursome meet up one by one and do have a story.
When the boy and the mole first encounter the fox, here's the animals' exchange:
Mole: "I'm not afraid."
Fox: "If I wasn't caught in this snare, I'd kill you."
Mole: "If you stay in that snare, you will die."
So mole "chewed through the wire with his tiny teeth."
The book is full of such kindnesses. Mackesy points out in his introduction that each of the companions has a distinct character: "The boy is full of questions, the mole is greedy for cake. The fox is mainly silent and wary because he's been hurt by life. The horse is the biggest thing they have ever encountered, and also the gentlest." Yet they all help and love each other, even in fierce adversity. "When the big things feel out of control," they tell us amid a storm, "focus on what you love right under your nose."
If you have a special place in your heart for books like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, and A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh, you will want this book on your bedside table. You can open it anywhere and be instantly inspired. The fox, the boy, and the mole sit together watching a shooting star, and one of them says, "So much beauty we need to look after." There is no doubt that this book will help us do so, whether that's natural beauty, artistic beauty, or inner beauty.