Phoebe and Her Unicorn Series

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Phoebe and Her Unicorn Series Book Poster Image
Funny, sarcastic graphic novels have layers of complexity.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

No strictly academic subjects, but the cognitive and social-emotional content soars here. Readers have to find clues about the characters feelings in the images, and look for subtext in the smart, sly words. These panels are packed with layers of meaning, and, as readers mature, their understanding of the series will deepen.

Positive Messages

Do the right thing, be kind to others, be true to yourself, and try to make the world a better place.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Phoebe is self-centered and her unicorn an absolute narcissist, but they both honestly try to do the right thing, be kind to others, be true to themselves, and make the world a better place. They tend to announce how amazing they are, and avoid practicing the piano. The parents, teachers, camp counselors, and other adults are patient, compassionate, and sarcastic in all the right ways, and help Phoebe navigate her world as a "weirdo" who doesn't fit in, and doesn't want to. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

Occasionally a word like "stupidbutt" gets tossed around, but most insults involve being a weirdo or a boogerbrain.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dana Simpson's Phoebe and Her Unicorn series is very much about being true to yourself, whether you're a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils or 9-year-old Phoebe, a confident, happy misfit. Phoebe loves being a weirdo, being different from other kids. She's confused about not being liked by someone she wants to befriend, but is confident enough in herself not to get too sad. She speaks like an adult but with a child's perspective -- a tough line for a character to walk, and it works beautifully. The sarcasm is heavy here, and the series reaches for both silly highs and emotionally bare lows; it's both moving and hilarious. If ever there will be series worth mentioning in the same breath as the legendary comic strip Calvin and Hobbes -- albeit without quite as much adult appeal -- this might be one. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHeather S. August 13, 2017

Contains unwholesome words

Just felt that I needed to warn parents that this book isn't as great as the review makes it sound. It's a bit debasing. She often talks down about th... Continue reading
Parent Written byRajini P. July 12, 2017

My 7 year old loves it...

I read the first book and thought it was very funny and entertaining. I personally felt the sarcasm might not have been that evident to my 7 year old, but she f... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In the PHOEBE AND HER UNICORN series, 9-year-old Phoebe is a happy misfit weirdo whose best friend is a unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. No one -- parents, teachers, other kids -- think having a unicorn friend is odd because the "shield of borningness" Marigold enacted makes living with a unicorn seem perfectly normal. Phoebe deals with classmates who shun her because she's different, but Phoebe likes being weird. Her parents play video games with Phoebe, send her to music camp, and don't blink when their daughter starts a detective agency with the unicorn she rides to school. Phoebe faces everyday kid situations, but armed with a huge amount of confidence and a narcissistic unicorn, she has her own take on the world. At the end of each book are instructions for drawing the characters and other crafts.

Is it any good?

This series more than good; it's great. Phoebe and Her Unicorn is first and foremost a kids' series, but it's the rare graphic novel that works for adults, too. Phoebe is confident, smart, silly, and self-centered. Her unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, is all of that -- and, like all unicorns, is also mesmerized by her own beauty. This series tackles issues of fitting in, popularity, loneliness, friendship, honesty and what it means to be yourself. One of Phoebe's best friends is a boy, Max, and sometimes Phoebe isn't sure how she feels about having a boy as a friend (a feeling that readers in this age group can likely relate to).

This series doesn't reach the emotional lows that a more adult-targeted comic strip would, but it mixes some angst and tough questions with the sparkles and giddiness of life with a unicorn.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how, in Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Phoebe is blissfully happy being her "weird" self and doesn't want to be "normal." What makes a person weird? Why is weirdness a good thing?

  • Phoebe's best friend is her unicorn. Who are your best friends?

  • In what other books are kids and animals friends in such a realistic way?

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