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August 17, 2020

When Your Best Friend is a Unicorn

By: Missy Flanagin

It’s nothing new that young students love unicorns. Unicorns are literally everywhere you turn. They can be found on the cereal box you may have in your kitchen or they can be on your pajamas you snuggle up in at night. So, it’s no surprise that they are featured in the books we read as well. One graphic novel series Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson in particularly comes to mind. Simpson has kids devouring her books and begging for more. But this series doesn’t just appeal to the school age, older patrons such as myself are buying these up and stashing them on their shelves among their beloved classics.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostril Chronicle is the first book of Dana Simpson’s series. The series consists of 12 volumes and is rapidly growing along with its audience. The series debuted in 2012 asHeavenly Nostrils, a web-comic on the website Universal UClicks GoComics. Then was later featured in 100 newspapers on March 30, 2015, under its current name. Phoebe is loosely based on Dana and many of the students and family members Phoebe interacts with are a mish-mash of classmates and several other people Dana has met through her life.

The story begins with a 9-year-old girl Phoebe Howell meeting a real-life unicorn when she accidentally hits the unicorn with a rock she was trying to skip across the pond. This incident frees the unicorn from a trance as she is gazing at her reflection in the water. She then proceeded to introduce herself as Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. In thanks for freeing her from her trance, Marigold decides to grant Phoebe one wish.  After thinking about it, Phoebe chooses to wish for Marigold and herself to become best friends. From that point on the form a bond and become best buddies. Marigold helps Phoebe navigate through the usual turmoils of school, bullies, and dreaded gym class while Marigold introduces Phoebe to a candy breathing dragon. The “Shield of Boringness” which makes Marigold and other mythical creatures appear unremarkable to the people around them and the “Terrible Vortex of Meh” that basically makes everyone feel well just ‘meh’.

Definitely a great read for any school age readers avid and reluctant. Graphics novels are a great way to engage readers with rich context. They are usually full of text, along with fun illustrations, that the reader must decode, analyze and comprehend. There are so many other graphic novels to choose from that are similar to Phoebe and Her Unicorn. One of my favorites is Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton, a silly story about a happy-go-lucky narwhal and a no-nonsense jellyfish. These two don’t have much in common but their love for parties, waffles and adventure makes them inseparable. It’s a great series about true friendship and discovery. Also, by Dana Simpson Ozy and Millie, a collection of her favorite strips to the comic’s 10-year run. A fun comic strip about two tween foxes that are complete opposites in personality but none the less are the best of friends.