The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Values: Love, Kindness and Courage (and many more!)

I think this could possibly by THE most Values-based book that has graced, and will grace, this blog. If you haven't heard of it or seen Charlie Mackesy's illustrations in this past year, you may have been living under a rock!

This beautiful book is about four characters, as suggested by the title. There isn't a plot so to speak but the characters talk to each other and give advice. Charlie wrote and sketched all of the handwritten and hand-drawn pages himself and this brings a lovely authenticity to the book. I have gifted it to so many people during lockdown - children and adults alike. A leaving present, a wedding present, a birthday present and I have read so many of the pages in assemblies, I think the children are beginning to predict how I may start/end my assembly. This book should be an absolute timeless classic in any school or home from 2020 on.

There are so many Values gently taught in this book that I cannot name them all; I will only be able to touch on three of the main ones.

Love is the Value that runs like a thread through this book. There are multiple pages where the characters discuss the purpose of why they are there - "to love and be loved" - and how they love each other despite knowing all of each other's flaws. There are beautiful quotes to unpick with individuals, classes or whole school assemblies as you see fit.

Kindness, as pictured above, is quotes as being the ultimate Value. The characters guide each other to be kind not only to others, but to themselves. In an age where we are increasingly championing mental health, this book often refers to being kind to yourself as the greatest starting point and these pages could be the stimulus for a circle time, bedtime conversation or even some thoughtful artwork.

Courage is another Value that Charlie Mackesy beautifully explains.

"What is the bravest thing you have ever said?" asks the boy.

"Help," says the horse.

I have discussed this question with a KS2 class (without revealing the horse's response) and we have had a very deep conversation about what they feel bravery is. The children often thought of answers surrounding standing up for others or saying they didn't want to do something (peer pressure related). We were then able to talk about why asking for help is a courageous thing to do and something that often adults find hard to do as well as children.

I love the simplicity in this book and yet the very deep, thought-provoking messages that come out of it. I also love the way Charlie has used his voice and recognisable sketching talents to create further prints during the Covid-19; for example, he has praised the NHS, Key Workers, Captain Tom Moore, and he created the 2020 Comic Relief 'love wins' t-shirt. This book will forever be on my Values bookshelf and I will always be buying it as a gift for people as I think it can be a great source of both advice and comfort. I cannot recommend enough having a copy yourself, and following Charlie on Instagram (@charliemackesy) and Twitter (@charliemackesy).

If you would like a copy of this book, try ANY bookshop or Amazon, of course. You can also buy prints of pages of the book for your home or classroom on Charlie's own website.

Use the hashtags to identify my reviews of books on this blog that also contain these Values: