Catching Up With Phoebe and Her Unicorn

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm

It’s much too easy to take good entertainment in a continuing series for granted. I talked about how much I liked the first two books, Phoebe and Her Unicorn and Unicorn on a Roll, and then it seems like I blinked and there were five more. But it’s been four years now that these volumes have been collecting the charming comic strip about an imaginative little girl and her magical friend. Here’s the catch-up run-down, all of which are recommended reading for all ages.

Unicorn vs. Goblins

Unicorn vs. Goblins

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Phoebe goes to summer music camp, and Marigold tags along. They meet Sue, her roommate, who’s even weirder than Phoebe, and Marigold makes friends with the lake monster. It’s very amusing seeing Marigold canoeing, sitting in the boat with a life jacket on. I admire how Dana Simpson has created such a visually flexible horse-inspired character.

The rest of summer is a time to contemplate fireflies and freckles and similar, non-important topics. That’s a large part of the strip’s appeal to me — the way the combination of Marigold’s magic and Phoebe’s simple, everyday life leads to wonderful observations that make the regular fantastic. That brings enchantment, if only for a little time, to the reader. There’s surprising wisdom and an encouraging way of life shown here. Take, for example, this oddly competitive but with-a-surprising-ending strip from the book (where it appears in color):

Phoebe and Her Unicorn strip

Also in this volume, frenemy Dakota has to come to terms with her magic hair, which has taken on a mind of her own, and we meet Marigold’s sister Florence before the goblins show up for Dakota, as well as some new school friends for Phoebe.

Razzle Dazzle Unicorn

Razzle Dazzle Unicorn

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Max invites Phoebe and Marigold over for a role-playing game, and Phoebe ponders the nature of different kinds of friendships and tries journaling. She finds it difficult to balance, though, a trait I could relate to.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn strip

Phoebe’s mom takes care of Marigold when she’s sick with “sparkle fever”, and Phoebe struggles with having to ride the school bus instead of her unicorn. When Phoebe has to do a book report, her family teases her to make sure she reads the whole thing, and she discovers the pleasure of sharing a good read with a friend.

The friends return to summer camp, but before that, Simpson plays with her format when a cleaning spell temporarily makes Phoebe’s room disappear, indicated by a void around the doorway. Simpson also provides some pages at the end about her creative process in putting the strips together.

Unicorn Crossing

Unicorn Crossing

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There’s lots of planning for Halloween in Unicorn Crossing, from deciding on costumes to hosting a party. That’s a particularly good holiday for Todd the Candy Dragon. Later, Phoebe has to cope without Marigold when she goes to unicorn spa with her sister.

Artistically, we get to see Marigold eat spaghetti, which is something to behold. And winter means Marigold darns her scarf and leg warmers, which I find cute, to cope with all the snow. As the book goes on, the seasons change, and Phoebe finds it hard to keep up with her assigned reading when there are so many other neat things to do in the summer.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm

Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm

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In a change of pace for the series, The Magic Storm is a full-length original story instead of a collection of strips. That means more panel variety (although nothing too outrageous — keeping it easy for younger readers is important) and more space and time with other characters.

There’s a big ice storm that closes school early, and Marigold is getting premonitions that something is affecting magic in the area, stealing both magic and warmth. When the power goes out, Phoebe and Marigold set out to investigate, with help from Max (who likes maps and electricity) and Dakota (and her goblin minions).

It’s lots of fun to read a longer adventure. Plus, we find out the difference between freezing rain and hail, and there’s background information included on power plants and outages.

Unicorn of Many Hats

Unicorn of Many Hats

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Phoebe teaches Marigold about fan letters, and Marigold gets to babysit her young friend, as well as play video games with Phoebe’s dad. Back to school means contemplating the passing of time, changing seasons, and what makes something cool.

Halloween rolls around again, and Marigold puts on skates and goes as a car! (You have to see this for yourself.) Then she and Phoebe debate how close she is to a horse in a fascinating series with the message that people should be able to define their own identities. This book also contains my favorite Phoebe and Her Unicorn strip so far:

Phoebe and Her Unicorn strip

If you’re interested in yet more Phoebe and Her Unicorn, there is also a picture book, Today I’ll Be a Unicorn, and an activity/puzzle book, Rainy Day Unicorn Fun. Any way you get it, these characters are welcome friends.



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