We’re thrilled to announce that our booksellers have selected Charlie Mackesy’s unique illustrated tale The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse as Barnes & Noble’s inaugural Book of the Year.
U.K.-based artist and illustrator Mackesy creates in various mediums, from pen and ink, to paint, to sculpture. He began his professional career as a cartoonist for the British magazine The Spectator and as a book illustrator for Oxford University Press before his work began appearing in galleries. He is a respected artist in his home country, and has collaborated on projects with notable figures the likes of film director Richard Curtis and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Nelson Mandela—but when he posted to Instagram a deceptively simple drawing of a boy atop a large horse, engaged in a dialogue about courage, the internet took notice, and he found his work reaching an audience he’d never expected.
That single drawing eventually grew into The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, a charmingly illustrated story in which a young boy and three animals wander through a beautifully rendered English countryside, talking of the importance of life, love, acceptance, and, not to be forgotten, cake. It’s a fable that can be read in an hour and pondered for a lifetime, imparting universal truths in an elegant marriage of spare dialogue and deceptively simple art. There’s a quiet grace to Mackesy’s work that has found the place in the hearts of readers around the world—and in the hearts of Barnes & Noble booksellers in particular.
All of us at Barnes & Noble love The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, but because Book of the Year is an honor bestowed by our booksellers, we want to give them the final word. Here is just a selection of the enthusiastic endorsements we received for this book, which moved our booksellers so deeply, they wanted to share its message with all of you.
“Follow four unforgettable characters as they embark on a journey filled with important life lessons. Like A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, there is a graceful blending of wit and illustration that breathes beauty into a deceptively simple narrative. Prepare to be inspired as you connect with this ragtag group of friends who show that emotional vulnerability is a strength. A timely work of art that speaks to all ages.” — Jennifer Zent, Bookseller, Mishawaka, IN
“In the world we live in today, this book touches the heart and reminds us of who we want to be and the world we want to create for ourselves and others. The simple messages from a mole or compassionate words from a horse tells us that we don’t need a complex answer when we are confused. Life is simple. We are the ones who make it so complicated. A beautiful book for the soul as well as the eyes.”— Glenda Moret, Bookseller, Brentwood, TN
“Tears fall for a reason, they are your strength, not weakness. Need I say more? This book is spectacular. A perfect gift for anyone. Aspirational, thought provoking and beautifully illustrated.” — Amanda Craig, Bookseller, Birmingham, AL
“Simple yet effective. This book shows the beauty in bold lines, thoughtful phrases, and introspection. Mackesy brilliantly delivers powerful mantras in a story-like fashion, combining them with graphics that seek a deeper meaning: the boy on his journey through life, the mole who he first encounters, a fox who may not be what he first appears to be, a horse who is hiding a secret. Every page is practically a way to live your life, and worthy of meditating on as you take your own journey.” — John Carroll, Bookseller, Tupelo, MS
“In a time when our world can seem so divided and uncertain, here are a boy, a mole, a fox, and a horse to remind us that love and kindness are everything, and that we all matter.” — Scott Skar, Bookseller, Souix Falls, SD