Phoebe and her Unicorn is at times charming and touching, but mostly it is funny, and overall an entertaining read. What began in 2012 as a daily webcomic (originally titled Heavenly Nostrils) has now been gathered into seven graphic novels, and is still being posted daily by author and artist Dana Simpson. On the strong recommendation of a friend I picked up the first graphic novel, Phoebe and her Unicorn, for my six year old. She loves it, her ten year old sister loves it, and I quite like it too.
Phoebe is a smart, goofy, and somewhat lonely fourth grader with a vivid imagination. One day, while skipping rocks on a forest pool, she accidentally smacks a unicorn in the head. The unicorn has been trapped at the pool due to being mesmerized by her reflection. Grateful the unicorn offers Phoebe a wish for rescuing her. After attempting to wish for more wishes, infinite money, or super powers, Phoebe wishes for the unicorn to be her best friend, a wish the unicorn can grant, if reluctantly at first. It is now that we learn the unicorn’s name to be Marigold Heavenly Nostrils and get a glimpse of Marigold’s unbounded vanity.
Phoebe, “That’s the BEST NAME I’VE EVER HEARD.” Marigold, “Yes it is!”
At first Phoebe tries to use Marigold to increase her social standing at school and to get back at Dakota, the popular girl who likes to torment Phoebe. Due to Marigold’s Shield of Boringness these plans don’t work out the way Phoebe intends. It is then that Phoebe realizes perhaps she should treat Marigold as the friend she wished for and not a prop. Thus begin the adventures of Phoebe and her unicorn.
Dana Simpson plays the two very different characters off each other beautifully. Their friendship is slow to grow at the start but genuine affection comes with time. My six year old does not get all the gags and jokes, even the ten year old doesn’t catch them all, but we all find the book hysterical. It will be fun to watch them realize how much more is going on as they get older. The introduction to this book was written by the great Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn. In it he compares Phoebe and Marigold to another famous comic duo, Calvin and Hobbes. I heartily agree with his assessment.