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Book Scene: Four friends who offer us hope

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“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse” is a mouthful of a title for a delightfully simple book.

When you sit down to read any story, you might have a set of expectations or preconceived ideas about what you are going to experience. This sweet little book, however, will break and exceed all those expectations. It sure did for me.

The first surprise is that it is not a story in the traditional sense but more of a collection of sayings, scenes and heart-warming moments. This makes it the epitome of a light, happy read. All these small dialogues ultimately do make a story — it is just up to the reader to figure out precisely what that story is.

The second surprise: Despite the fact that it’s all these small glimpses, you fall head over heels in love with each of the characters. There’s the boy with all his questions and concerns about life; the mole who loves cake and always has something interesting to say; the fox who seems to have been hurt before but finally now feels accepted and really doesn’t talk much; and finally the sweet, gentle giant of a horse who is wise and makes everyone feel at ease. Following these characters as they get to know each other and the forest around them is a real joy.

The third surprising thing about the book is its format. You might be expecting a regular book, with straight lines of text and maybe a neat little illustration here and there, but that is not the case. What lies inside its covers is stunning and inspiring, and, as an artist myself, I was encouraged by the unusual but breathtaking design of the book.

This collection is not just for children, but for anyone at any stage of life. There are takeaways in its wisdom about life, friendship, self-worth and, of course, cake. It has the gentle lovability of Winnie-the-Pooh paired with the introspection and character dynamics of Calvin and Hobbes. This heartwarming book would be a real treasure for your bookshelf.

• “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy was published by HarperOne in October 2019. It retails for $22.99.

• Emma Welch works for Inklings Bookshop. She and other Inklings staffers review books in Thursday’s SCENE every week.

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