Magical Happy Unicorn Time!


Phoebe and her Unicorn and Unicorn on a Roll

Let’s be honest, sometimes, all we want is a simple story about a little girl and her special unicorn friend.

These graphic novels (really a collection of strips from a webcomic) by Dana Simpson focus on a little girl named Phoebe who befriends an actual for-reals unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. Phoebe wins Marigold’s trust by freeing her from a devastating trap — Marigold had caught a glimpse of her reflection in a lake and was transfixed by her own beauty, and Phoebe broke the spell when she accidentally pegged her in the head while skipping stones. Marigold granted Phoebe a wish, and Phoebe wished for her to be her best friend.

From there, they have many adventures — well, they have mostly fairly kid-centered adventures. They torment Dakota, the school’s alpha — and other than that, they mostly hang out together and chat. And they razz each other about the relative strengths and weaknesses of their species. Marigold is able to go out in public thanks to her magical Shield of Boringness that makes everyone disregard the fact that there’s a freakin’ unicorn walking around in public, which gives the two pals the opportunity for many more shenanigans.


Verdict: Thumbs up. You hear a lot of comparisons to Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” strip when people talk about Phoebe and her Unicorn, and while Watterson is unquestionably a better artist — no knock on Simpson, by the way — very few cartoonists will ever be as great as Watterson — the comparisons are pretty apt. The characters are pretty similar, though Phoebe is better behaved, and Marigold is 100% real. And the strong sense of play and fun and wonder is prevalent throughout the story.

The artwork is plenty of fun — very expressive in the way the best cartoons are. Characterization is also a great strength — Phoebe is smart and kind and a little lonely and a lot awkward and funny — and Marigold is graceful and egotistical and magical and patient and affectionate.

Why should you get these books instead of just reading them for free online? Well, first, it’s always nice to be able to support cartoonists. And more important for you, it’s easier to read this to your kids before bed in book form than it is on the tablet. Yes, your kids will love it — and if you’ve got kids who love smart heroines their own ages and hilarious magical unicorns? Well, this is going to become an incredibly prized possession.

Get it for your kids. Heck, get it for you — there’s plenty of stuff for grownups to laugh at, too. Just go pick it up.

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