A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
Do the right thing, be kind to others, be true to yourself, and try to make the world a better place.
Positive Role Models
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.
Occasionally a word like "stupidbutt" gets tossed around, but most insults involve being a weirdo or a boogerbrain.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.