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Review: Virtual Unicorn Experience

Virtual Unicorn Experience cover

Virtual Unicorn Experience
by Dana Simpson
Andrews McMeel Publishing, $11.99
Ages 7-12

The latest Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection is as fresh and funny and entertaining as any of the previous. It’s the twelfth book in the series, so that’s a pretty impressive track record.

Since the unicorn Marigold is a magical creature, her sometimes use of spells makes for entertaining visuals, but the realistic elements of this strip are where it excels. In Virtual Unicorn Experience, the friendship between Marigold and the odd but admirable Phoebe is inspirational and wonderful to see. This is true whether they’re painting each other’s nails (hooves) or sharing snacks or going to the movies or binge-watching a favorite TV show.

They learn from each other, making for funny images. Phoebe may temporarily gain a tail, or Marigold will try on clothes. Marigold also becomes atypically anxious after she tries out for a role in the unicorn community theater production of “Grass: The Musical”, but Phoebe helps her through it. Later, Marigold helps Phoebe practice handball. No matter what they’re doing, they’re there for each other.

It confuses others, sometimes. Other unicorns are puzzled by what Marigold sees in a human, to the extent of putting Phoebe on trial for not being a unicorn. That doesn’t affect how they care about each other, though, and they don’t have anything to prove. The message, that our friends are worth trusting even if they’re different from us, is an important one.

It’s impressive that each book ends with a glossary of potentially unfamiliar words. It means that Simpson isn’t afraid to use vocabulary that makes sense. Instead of dumbing down the language, she uses the opportunity to educate.

The next Phoebe and Her Unicorn book, Unicorn Famous, is due out in April.

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Johanna About Johanna

Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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