Heena In The Wonderland

The Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse Quotes & Book Review – By Charlie Mackesy

Charlie Macksey's The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, & The Horse

Are you a writer? Reader? Photographer? Musician? A person inclined towards creativity in general? Well, then, Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse is YOUR book. By the end of this review, you’ll know why. And if you aren’t one of these, this review will help you decide whether it’d be worth spending your resources on. Good luck. 🙂

Charlie Macksey’s debut book is a quick read and won’t take more than an hour of your time. However, it will take a long time for you to grasp the essence of the tender philosophies promoting self-worth, compassion, and unconditional love. The book will guide you to become a more responsible, kind-hearted, supportive, and lovable human in the most subtle ways. Ready to explore how? Here we go! 

Insight – The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse has won an Oscar for theBest Animated Short Film (2023)’. Yes, it’s been turned into a movie. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ll let you know how it is once I do.

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse Book Review

The first time I skimmed through this book, I’d be honest about finding it overpriced (INR 597 on Amazon). But once I started reading it, I kept losing myself in the wonderland the author has created. Every page is a tiny piece of art. You could take a picture of any of the pages and use it as a wallpaper/poster/sticker. What gives it a unique appeal is the handwritten text in ink and the drawings that are colourful on some pages and monochrome on others. 

About Interpretation

The drawings are bereft of any significant details, giving readers the liberty to add their own. Example: A reader can interpret a tea stain on one of the pages as the moon .“Be curious,” reads the text. There’s another page where “perfection” is being discussed, with ink spilt over it. Wow. Like WOW! I read one review where the writer interpreted the boy as being in heaven and the animals as spirits. So much to add on one’s own! I love stories wherein I can add my interpretation and make it a little more of my own. No wonder absurd drama is my go-to genre! If you’re someone similar, you’d have read this already. If not, consider this as the universe’s sign. 

Interpretation of The Boy The Mole The Fox and The Horse
Summary of The Boy The Mole The Fox and The Horse

About Philosophies

The best part of the book is the gentleness with which the philosophical questions are raised and resolved by the characters. Besides, as the author says, “This book is for anyone, whether you are eighty or eight – I feel like I’m both sometimes.” This mention adds a timeless dimension to the storyline. 

About Contradicting Views

Some people call this book a bit preachy and are astonished at its enormous success. They give Charlie Macksey’s Instagram fame (1.5M followers) its credit. You wouldn’t feel this if you love Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (this is my absolute favourite book of all times – I’ll put up a review soon), Winnie-The-Pooh, Guess How Much I Love You, The Giving Tree, and The Velveteen Rabbit. If you’ve read even one of these and felt a tinkling feeling within while doing so, you should order the book right away!

And if you haven’t read any of the books, pick this up, and you are in for a delight. Trust me! Count the books shared above as future recommendations. Sure, the sentences are simple, but they are hard-hitting. I’ve listed some of my favourite quotes from the book below.

The Boy The Mole The Fox And The Horse Quotes

*Mistful eyes-sniffling nose-WTF reaction alert*

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” “Kind,” said the boy.

“What do you think success is?” asked the boy. “To love,” said the boy.

“What do you think is the biggest waste of time?” “Comparing yourself to others.” said the mole.

“I wonder if there is a school of unlearning.”

“One of our greatest freedom is how we react to things.”

“Isn’t it odd? We can only see our outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside.” 

“Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses,” said the mole. 

“Often, the hardest person to forgive is yourself.”

“Doing nothing with friends is never doing nothing, is it?”

“Everyone is a bit scared, but we are less scared together.” 

“When have you been at your strongest?” asked the boy. “When I have dared to show my weakness.” 

“Asking for help isn’t giving up. It’s refusing to give up.”

“The greatest illusion is that life should be perfect.”

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse Summary

The story opens with the boy meeting the mole out of nowhere. Soon after, they become friends and get into one of the wisest conversations. They walk into the wild on their quest to find life’s most challenging answers. There, they meet the Fox caught in a snare. Because the food chain makes foxes prey on moles, it is a pretty sight to see the mole chewing through the wire to help the fox escape. Once free, rather than gulping the mole whole, the Fox does something heartwarming. It draws a heart with its footprints on the ground. (A perfect ‘Awww’ moment.) Please spend some time on that illustration. It’s beyond mesmerising. These little thank-you gestures are EVERYTHING!

Best Moment of The Boy The Mole The Fox and The Horse

After many beautiful illustrations and nuggets of wisdom, they meet the horse. And then comes an avalanche of quotes that heal even those parts one doesn’t know need fixing. Example – “When have you been at your strongest?” asked the boy. “When I have dared to show my weakness,” said the horse. This part baffles me every time I read the book (which has been seven times). 

HeenaInTheWonderland’s Personal Take

The illustrations (after the horse confesses that he can fly) are evocative, so much so that they made me think of Pegasus, Peter Pan, and Tinker Bell. The emotions it draws are similar to how I feel when I’m at Nada Sahib. Furthermore, the way the boy rides the horse while he flies makes me want to jump into the picture and be a part of it. It makes me want to experience the horse’s hair brushing past my skin, the wind’s swiftness gushing through my face, the ground and scenery rushing past my eyes, the body thudding, the heart pounding, the hooves clip-clopping, the rocking, the flinching, the faltering, the balancing… Everything! And if a book can make one feel so much, it has to be STUNNING! It is. 

Heena's Personal Take on The Boy The Mole The Fox and The Horse
Characters Similar To The Horse in The Boy The Mole The Fox and The Horse

The story ends with a cross on “The End” and words that say, “look how far we’ve come.” To conclude, this book is an emotion you would want to keep close to your heart for a long, long time. 

About Charlie Mackesy & His Drawings 

Charlie Macksey’s drawings are far from perfect, yet they are powerful enough to shake the artist in you by the shoulders. Long before I read the book, I kept staring at the cover picture. Out of the blue, it gave me an impetus to recreate it. That’s how beautiful the drawings are. 

The drawings, however, are only the outlines of the figures’ anatomy. They are a combination of soft and strong lines with rawness dripping from them, appearing not more than rough sketches. Example – The Fox resembles the letter ‘J’ that seems to wear a cute pointy hairband. The mole is a bluish semicircle with white circles as paws. The boy is one circle at the top that is worked upon to show hair and a rectangle to show the torso and legs. The horse is shown to have an arched neck, muscled flanks, and legs with just a few bold, free-flowing lines. It resembles Da Vinci’s drawings of the horse. The astonishing bit is that Charlie Macksey never went to art school. He only spent three months in America with a portrait painter, where he learned about anatomy.

Characters – The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, And The Horse 

The title of the book has all the characters. Macksey says, “They are all different like us and each has its own weakness. I can see myself in all four of them; perhaps you can too!” 

  • The Boy: Like Jaqen H’ghar of Game of Thrones, this little boy “has no name”. He is referred to as “the boy” in the entire book, and we never get to see his face from the front. The number of questions he asks depicts the inner turmoils that both children and adults struggle with. While he has been looking for a place he can call home, it’s towards the end that he understands that “Home isn’t always a place.” Rather, it is a collection of moments spent with the best of people. 
Character Description of The Boy
  • The Mole: He is the cutest character obsessed with cakes. (Foodies, please take note.) “If at first, you don’t succeed, have some cake,” he says. Cake, here, is the symbol of motivation. 
Character Description of The Mole
  • The Fox: “The fox never really speaks,” whispered the boy. “No. And it’s lovely he is with us,” said the horse. How lovely is this! Because I am as quiet as the Fox sometimes, it was lovely to discover that I can be valued even if I have nothing to contribute other than my presence! (I just need horses in my life that think like THE horse. :P) And I will request people to follow in the horse’s footsteps and value people no matter what. 
Character Description of The Fox
  • The Horse: Favourite. Favourite-r. Favourite-st! The best. THE BEST. What do I even say? The horse is the showstopper for me, thanks to its grace in articulating intense philosophies in the simplest of ways. “You’re important.” “Don’t measure your value by how people treat you.” “Look, how far we’ve come.” He hits a sixer every time he speaks. Not just this, he can fly too! The illustrations of him “winging it” are breathtaking. 
Character Description of The Horse

Setting of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse

The book’s beauty lies in its absurdness of time, as the story is not set in any particular location, time, or season. You’ll find snow in one frame and greenery in another. In some frames, the tree in which the boy sits is covered with leaves; in others, it is bare. The author mentions that this swiftness “is a little bit like life – it can turn on a sixpence.”

Setting of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse


The first sensational illustration of the horse and the boy by Charlie Macksey sprouted from a conversation he had with his friend Bear Grylls. It was about what courage really looked like and the bravest thing they’d ever done. Mackesy replied, “the bravest thing I’d ever done was when I was struggling and had the courage to ask for help. So I drew it.”

“I put that up on Instagram and forgot about it, and the next thing I knew was that hospitals and institutions had been using it, and the army had been using it for PTSD, it went crazy. I wasn’t aware of it. Occasionally I’d get emails saying, ‘I hope you don’t mind we used it in our therapy unit; it’s helping people realise it’s a brave thing to show weakness’.”

Therefore, the message is to live courageously and seek help when needed. To spread your wings and follow your dreams. To have more kindness for yourself and others. And to be grateful. 

Message of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse

Personal Observations

  • While the page numbers aren’t mentioned, the book has 132 pages of pure bliss, i.e. end-to-end. (Yes, I counted. Phew!)
  • The title and author’s name are digitally written in a shimmery golden colour on the blue spine of the book. (Take the book in your hands and check out how gracefully golden stands out on the blue.)
  • The author has used his distinctive cursive to write his name and the title in copper on the pale yellow cover of the book. (To the few boys who land up on this blog, copper and gold are two different shades. In case they appear the same to you. 😛 )  
  • The copyright page is at the back. It almost always is at the beginning. While going through Charlie Macksey’s interviews, I got to know why. The author said, “A copyright page reminds me of going to a party where someone stands up and says, ‘This food we’ve made? Please don’t try to copy it anywhere else even though it’s delicious.’ Why ruin the experience?” (I want someone to share their thoughts on this, please.) 
  • The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse can’t be confined to a definite shelf. Kids’ Novel, Literary Graphic Novel, Picture Book, Morality Book, Ethics, Philosophical, Self-help – Place this book under any section, and it would make perfect sense. (Ah, the beauty!)
  • The story is narrated in the third person. Had any character told the story, there would have been too much emphasis on that character. The author accomplished his job of keeping the book idea-centric rather than character-centric by employing third-person narration. (Woohoo!)
  • This book has more reviews than Harry Potter on Amazon. (Not kidding.)
  • The boy is wearing half-pants in some illustrations and full pants in others. The way it nudges the imagination is captivating – Was the boy carrying a bag? Why hasn’t it been shown? Did he meet somebody on the way? (Think about it.)

I’d love to hear your observations, if any. Please share in the comments, or write to me at mail@heenainthewonderland.com. 🙂 

ALERT – SPECIAL INSIGHT – For The Artistic Souls

When I first opened the book, the sheet music on the flip side of the cover kept me hooked for 20 minutes straight (perhaps more). I can’t read music, yet it could enchant me like crazy. That’s the level of beauty it carries! 

Spoiler Alert & Personal Observations - The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse

And then I discovered similar sheet music on the end paper too. Fun Fact – Even though the notes on both the pages look identical, the first, second, and fifth lines don’t match. Do analyse once you grab the book. You’ll be awestruck! 

I researched more and found an interview where Charlie Macksey mentioned, “I like drawing old music.” And *drum-rolls* the sheet music is Soldatenmarsch (Soldiers’ March) Op. 68, No. 2 by Robert Schumann. It makes perfect sense because the music does sound like a horse trotting in an open deserted vineyard. 

It strangely reminded me of a short story I read in standard 11 – The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse. If you wish to read its summary, please stay tuned. I’ll share a link right here in a couple of days. 

Exclusively For Music Lovers

Soldiers’ March (G Major) is from Robert’s Album for the Young, which consists of a collection of 43 short works. He composed the album in 1848 for his three daughters. While the first 18 pieces are meant for children/beginners, the remaining ones are for adults. The Soldier’s March is the second piece in the album. I hope you enjoy this piece! 🙂 

What Next?

This book is all heart, making it one of the best gift ideas for book-lovers. But before you materialise this idea, buy a copy and gift this aesthetically pleasing book to yourself. It will sit elegantly on your bookshelf, giving other books perfect company. Also, if possible, read it to your nephews/nieces/kids/grandkids/great grandkids (please), so they grow up with solid values. It is a life coach disguised as a book and must be treasured. 

Lastly, I genuinely hope you enjoyed the book review as much as I loved penning it down! 

If you buy the book, please (pretty please) share your experience. It’ll help me know if I made a difference. You can do that via comments or mail – mail@heenainthewonderland.com. For more updates on BOOKS, stay tuned. 🙂

You can also check out the TRAVEL and HEARTFELT section to know what else I cover. Here’s hoping (right from the bottom of my heart) that you liked spending time here. If you have any suggestions, please know that I am just a mail/comment away.

May sparkling joy (and every book you like) be yours, today and forever. 🙂

3 thoughts on “The Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse Quotes & Book Review – By Charlie Mackesy”

  1. It’s amazing how precisely the review is written, how you describe every little detail of the book, is rare these days. And if the book review starts with this line ’The book will guide you to become a more responsible, kind-hearted, supportive, and lovable human in the most subtle ways.’ then how can one ignore such a book? Waiting for your next review eagerly.
    All the power & good wishes to you. Keep going 👍🏻

    1. Thank you SO much for this wonderful feedback, Kush! This means a lot to me. Totally made my day.
      Keep supporting, please. 🙂
      The next review will be live soon. Fingers crossed! ^_^

  2. This is a very elegantly written review and after reading it I can feel how much effort went into it. I’ve never read any book like the one mentioned here but your way of portraying the beauty of the book surely piqued my interest. I’m already thinking about reading this book and also give this as a gift. These days it’s hard to find readers who review books that are not your run-of-the-mill fantasy or romance books but you surely found a gem that’s completely different yet quenches the thirst of old and young readers. The entire review, along with the website is very calming and soothing and definitely gives a very good vibe that urges me to read more. ❤️❤️🌻🌻

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