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Review: Phoebe and Her Unicorn

Likened to Calvin and Hobbes, this collection of comic strips that was originally published on GoComics will delight young readers.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle
By Dana Simpson
AMP Kids, $10. ISBN 9781449446208
Recommended for ages 8 & up

A unicorn is trapped in her own reflection. So when Phoebe accidentally hits a unicorn with a rock and releases her, she grants Phoebe one wish. Phoebe asks for the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, to be her best friend. The wish is granted, and the delightful adventures begin. Phoebe navigates fourth-grade friendships, family life, and adventures with a unicorn.

It’s never clear whether or not Marigold is imaginary, but the story has many of the same inflections of Calvin and Hobbes. Unlike the Calvin and Hobbes strips, we never see a doll version of Marigold. Nevertheless, Simpson definitely created her own trademark style with this collection. The cotton-candy-pink cover will lure young female readers to this book, possibly ones looking for a genteel read, but Phoebe is spirited—much like Babymouse—and Marigold, has a sharp-witted tongue.

The illustrations match the tone of the text. Pencil and ink drawings, colored in with soft pastel-like hues, round out the comic strip collection in the best possible way.

Like any comic strip collection, many of the strips continue to make up a short story, but this isn’t a graphic novel. The strips read like strips. Think of it as a collection of short-short stories.

Readers in need of a good friend can curl up with this title. They won’t be sorry.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. Danny in Canada says

    I thought it was pretty clear that Marigold was non-imaginary — for instance, Phoebe’s parents interact with her.

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