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Thirty-Four Minutes of Kindness

Noa Cordova

Volume 4 Issue 2

January 16, 2024

Thirty-Four Minutes of Kindness

Image provided by Noa Cordova (Based on Charlie Mackesy's Illustrations)

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” 




It is truly an admirable response and captures the main theme of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse. Its central theme of kindness inspired one of our AP English Language teachers, Mrs. Brodsky, to show us the film “in the spirit of Thanksgiving.” Initially, she planned to connect the film to our AP English Language curriculum but decided that its lessons were more valuable than the lessons of rhetorical devices and grammar instruction we are taught daily during period 4. I have to say, keeping a room full of high schoolers quiet for a solid thirty-four minutes can be a challenge, but it was something that this film was able to do. Most of us had exams and other commitments stressing us out, but for thirty-four minutes, we focused on something worthwhile; we focused on the depth and beauty of the film. 


Before Mrs. Brodsky, we have Charlie Mackesy to thank for the experience. The story started in a book written and illustrated by British illustrator, Charlie Mackesy. Inspired by the social restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mackesy sought to draw something that would keep us connected as humans regardless of the circumstances at the time. In his interview on CBS Sunday morning, he revealed that when he draws, “it starts as a feeling.” He describes the book as “a story for everyone”, and I’d have to agree; the story’s message, although ironically conveyed by animals, is a story about humanity. Apart from his work on The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, he worked with Nelson Mandela on The Unity Series. When he is not working with his pencil in hand, he is co-running Mama Buci, an organization that supports bee-keeping communities in Zambia. I’d say it’s evident that Mackesy is a pure soul and dedicates his time to worthwhile causes he is passionate about; it is not surprising he told such a moving story with simple illustrations in just thirty-four minutes. 


A lost boy, a sensitive mole, a lonely fox, and a wise horse teach us a whole lot about kindness, friendship, and emotions as they embark on a journey to bring the boy home. We are first introduced to the boy who is feeling lost, as many of us have at one point. Next, we meet the mole who reminds us of the importance of appreciating the beauty of life and worrying less. He reminds us that often our worries have simple solutions, like cake. Like the mole, we all have our equivalent of cake; we each have something that makes us forget our worries, even if it’s just for a while. Under more ominous circumstances, we meet the fox, who becomes an unexpected friend to the boy and the mole. The fox embodies character growth; he teaches us the importance of second chances and seeing the good in others. The horse is the last to join the trio and provides them all with a great deal of wisdom throughout their journey home. He reminds us about the bravery in asking for help, the love of true friendship, and the validity of our emotions. By the end of the thirty-four minutes, it’s easy to see a little bit of ourselves in each of these four friends. 


Mrs. Brodsky shared the film with us in the spirit of Thanksgiving, Charlie Mackesy released the film last year on Christmas Eve, and I’m encouraging you to watch the film or even read the book to start the new year; it goes to show that its lessons are timeless. I think that since the new year kicks off the winter season, it makes it a perfect time to watch the film as its snowy atmosphere will make you want to wrap up in some blankets with some tea and of course, cake. As we think about going into the new year, watching this film may change your perspective on some things. As you write your New Year's resolutions maybe you’ll be reminded of the things that really matter like kindness, friendship, and love. As the boy reminds us from the beginning, growing up to be a kind person should be our ultimate goal; it should come before any other career choice because “everything happens on the inside.” This year, we can all apply a lesson or two from the film. Although like the mole we may feel small in such a vast world, we’ll be reminded that we do make a difference. I think the mole would likely appreciate Mahatma Gandhi’s saying that “in a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Maybe we’ll choose to accept some unexpected, new people into our lives as the characters did with the fox. Maybe we’ll learn to be someone people can lean on or a source of comfort, as the horse was for his new friends. Maybe we’ll discover what it means to have a home, like the boy. Hopefully, we’ll surround ourselves with people who are glad we are all here and remind us that we each have a purpose. According to the boy, that purpose is primarily to love, and I’d say it's hard to disagree. I’d say this film has a lesson for everyone, so I encourage you to find yours. The profound connections and touching lessons are heart-warming enough to keep us (and the boy who only has a hoodie even though it's snowing) warm this winter season. It is truly impressive how much you can learn about kindness in just thirty-four minutes. 


Watch The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse - Movie - Apple TV+ 

Charlie Mackesy 

Charlie Mackesy's lessons in kindness ( 

Mama Buci - honey in its purest form 



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