A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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?
- Author: Dana Simpson
- Illustrator: Dana Simpson
- Genre: Graphic Novel
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC
- Publication date: September 12, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Paperback, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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