The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – and the Beauty of Friendship

I suppose The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy is technically a graphic novel, though it certainly isn’t a typical one. It is a series of sketched scenes, each scene generally only lasting one or two sketches, connected loosely with the plot of these four unlikely friends traveling together as the boy journeys home.

Most of the scenes are not adventurous but rather quiet moments of intimate, vulnerable friendship. Conversation. Often asking the difficult questions of life. Answering most of them with, “Cake!” … which is, of course, the correct answer.

Unabashedly reading this through the bias of my Christian worldview (which is not necessarily the same as that of the author, I don’t know), I would say this book is about seeing the image of our Creator in others and ourselves and appropriately responding with love, acceptance, and kindness, again to both others and to ourselves.

Nearly every scene in The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is quotable, but here are my five favorites.

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.

“Help,” said the horse.

“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,” said the horse.
“It’s refusing to give up.”

“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”, Charlie Mackesy

“Sometimes I worry you’ll all realise I’m ordinary,” said the boy.

“Love doesn’t need you to be extraordinary,” said the mole.


“Sometimes,” said the horse.

“Sometimes what?” asked the boy.

“Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.”


“The fox never really speaks,” whispered the boy.

“No. And it’s lovely he is with us,” said the horse.

“To be honest, I often feel I have nothing interesting to say,” said the fox.

“Being honest is always interesting,” said the horse.


“Don’t measure how valuable you are by the way you are treated,” said the horse.

“Always remember you matter, you’re important and you are loved, and you bring to this world things no one else can.”


May we all have friends like the boy, the mole, the fox, and the horse. No, may we all BE friends like them. Both, maybe? … Cake!

I’ll leave you with a bonus quote, because I can’t resist. When we first meet the fox, it is trapped in a snare and says that it would kill the mole if it weren’t caught. Undoubtedly the fox is hurt and angry in addition to being a natural predator. The mole responds by chewing through the snare and freeing the fox and then saying this to the boy:

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


I really must stop there, or I’ll end up quoting the entire book, and that would be frowned upon. You’ll simply just have to read it for yourself. I highly recommend you do so, and soon.

Nathan Patton

Nathan lives in the foothills of the Ozarks in Southeastern Missouri with his wife and five children. They used to live in New York City; and, while they sometimes miss it, especially the food and public transportation, they do enjoy being closer to nature and Cardinals baseball.

One thought on “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – and the Beauty of Friendship

  • July 10, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Good review! I need to check that out. Thank you, Nathan!


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