Saturday, November 14, 2015

Phoebe and Her Unicorn

Phoebe and Her Unicorn
Unicorn on a Roll
by Dana Simpson

Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Series: Amp Comics for Kids
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing (September 2, 2014)

The fact that the protagonist is a spunky fourth grader might have something to do with it. Or perhaps it is the haughty and elegant unicorn that did it. Whichever it was, the then nine year old resident fourth-grader took to Phoebe and her Unicorn comics like sponge to water.

Quite by accident one day, while skipping rocks, Phoebe, a friendless fourth grader, hits a narcissistic unicorn, which breaks the spell and frees the said unicorn.

When the unicorn magnanimously offers to fulfill one wish as a return favor, Phoebe latches on the one thing that every kid has thought of at one time or another: I wish for an infinity more wishes to be granted! Of course that's never going to happen. So, she asks for Infinity dollars. Not going to happen either. Finally, Phoebe wishes for the unicorn to be her Best Friend. Which the unicorn is unable to oil out of.

The comic strip chronicles their adventures together, incorporating every day school events as well as other whimsical situations. Available as a two volume collection, A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle and Unicorn on a Roll, the strips are typically snarky yet sweet and extremely giggle-worthy. While not a full-length graphic novel per se with a clear story arc, the groups of strips in the books are coherently organized to make up a short story where possible.

I enjoyed the books very much. First, how can one not like a name like Marigold Heavenly Nostrils? That's the unicorn's name. This high-and-mighty unicorn actually is the straight-man in this comedic team where Phoebe is full of wild antics that bounces off the self-assured unicorn. Second interesting aspect is the blurring of lines between fantasy world and real world for Phoebe. Thirdly, every once in a while, when the unicorn knows or does something inexplicable, a single word in a fancy font makes it all right: "Unicorn". Yes, that explains it all away, perfectly. Fourthly, it is clever and funny in parts, plus touching and sweet, which balances the sharp-witted sarcasm that can get annoying otherwise.

One summer day, the ten year old pulled this book out from our shelf and asked her visiting best friend to read it right then. Within minutes both were engrossed in it, pointing and giggling and discussing it. For the rest of the day. Not wanting to play outside. Very happy to be immersed in Phoebe's adventures with Heavenly Nostrils. It is nice to note how well this comic is resonating with the intended reader-demographic.

[Unicorns vs. Goblins: Another Phoebe and her Unicorn Adventure is launching in Feb 2016]

[image source: Andrews McMeel publishing]

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