[Image: BBC]

‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’: an animated triumph

Published in 2019, Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse has captured the hearts of readers of all ages. It is a book about self-discovery and growth, centred around themes of love, loneliness and friendship. Mackesy’s illustrations beautifully depict how universal our inner struggles truly are, encouraging us to understand and come to terms with them. Recently, the book has been adapted into an animated version by the BBC, which has received critical acclaim for its stunning animation and likeness to the original story.

The book follows the journey of a young boy who befriends a mole, a fox, and a horse, each having their own unique personality and perspectives on life. The characters embark on a heart-warming journey together, exploring the world and learning about the importance of friendship, love, and kindness. The mole is a character who represents curiosity and a desire to explore the world around him. The fox, on the other hand, is more cautious and introverted, representing a fear of vulnerability. The horse is a wise and comforting figure, offering guidance and support to the other characters as they navigate the ups and downs of life.

The book is a beautiful and uplifting reminder that no one is alone in feeling alone

The way the characters interact with each other is one of the story’s most beautiful and poignant aspects. The boy learns valuable lessons from the mole, the fox, and the horse about the importance of being true to oneself, the power of love and friendship, and the beauty that can be found in the world if we only take the time to look for it. Mackesy offers the world a much-needed sense of hope, writing on the brink of the first major Covid-19 outbreak.

One of the most significant themes Mackesy explores is the importance of mental health. Throughout the story, the characters discuss their fears and anxieties, offering each other support and encouragement. The book is a beautiful and uplifting reminder that no one is alone in feeling alone, and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. This is reflected beautifully by the horse, in one of the book’s finest quotes: “asking for help isn’t giving up. It’s refusing to give up”. With this, Mackesy shows us that everyone, despite how strong they look on the surface, has their insecurities. Everything the boy experiences, the fears of not being good enough, fears of being alone and not fitting in, exist in everyone and are not something to be ashamed of. Instead, Mackesy encourages us to embrace these fears, to look forward and take one step at a time.

Taken from canvas, to print and now to our screens, the story has been on a remarkable journey

This is exactly what the animated adaptation portrays so well. The conversations the characters have are rich with underlying meaning and are brought to life by stunning visual effects. The animation is beautifully simplistic, staying true to the book’s lucid illustrations. It marvellously captures Mackesy’s style, exquisitely building on the illustrations that Mackesy originally drew to help control his own trauma and anxieties. Before the book was published, Mackesy uploaded his illustrations online in a bid to raise awareness for mental health. Taken from canvas, to print and now to our screens, the story has been on a remarkable journey. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is now up for Bafta and Oscar nominations, an astounding achievement for such a meaningful story. Despite his growing success, Mackesy claims he is “still just scruffy Charlie with a dog.” What makes the story so beautiful is its compelling relationship with the writer, and the animation sticks true to the uplifting story of Mackesy and his characters alike.

Whether it be the book or the film, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse is a truly enriching story that speaks to the power of love, friendship and kindness. The story will forever live on as Mackesy continues to share his illustrations on social media, just as he did before the book’s success. It serves as a beautiful reminder that even when times are tough, we must remember, as the fox says, that we are enough, just the way we are.

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