The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, Charlie Mackesy
Two years ago, Charlie Mackesy uploaded a drawing of a boy and a mole to his Instagram account. The boy looks young, barely a toddler, barely the size of the mole, and the mole looks slightly concerned; it adds to the cuteness. ‘Tales from the underground. Another mole day I think,’ the artist captioned it.
The response was warm. Someone commented that the image took them ‘right back to the feel of my own storybook childhood’, another joked that the boy and the mole were discussing politics. What nobody realised, then, was that this was the start of what would become the surprise bestseller hit of the year, selling more than half a million copies in four months.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse isn’t a conventional picture book. Rather than a linear narrative, it’s a collection of quiet musings and conversations. The four titular characters meet one another and share each other’s confidence. It’s not aimed at any clear audience, and works as well for eight-year-olds as it does octogenarians. And yet, in the final dark months of 2019 and the tremulous beginning of 2020, it offered hope to hundreds of thousands of people.