Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle

illus. by Dana Simpson. 224p. AMP! Comics for Kids. Sept. 2014. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781449446208. LC 2013957200.
Gr 4 Up—Simpson's syndicated comics featuring the unlikely friendship between an awkward young girl and an arrogant unicorn are published as one volume for the first time. Phoebe, a somewhat precocious nine-year-old, releases a unicorn held captive underwater by a magic spell. In exchange for her freedom, the unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils grants Phoebe one wish, namely that the two will become best friends. Although imaginary childhood friends such as Hobbes and Winnie-the-Pooh are common, Simpson's take on the subject is unique and witty. Marigold is not invisible but often goes unnoticed, protected by a "shield of boringness." Simple line drawings bring the characters to life without detracting from the clever dialogue. Phoebe's face is particularly expressive, mirroring her wonderment and frustration with her recently acquired friend. The intended audience for this work is unclear. While the protagonist expresses her longing for a best friend, delights in sleepovers, and is enchanted with the mythical creature, there is an underlying sarcastic and mocking tone throughout. Facetious one-liners, such as "Terrible Vortex of Meh" and "summon your inner unicorn" may appeal to a more sophisticated audience. Reference to bathroom humor and several variations on "stupid," such as "stupidbutt" are obviously aimed at younger readers. Still, those looking for something to read after Jenni Holm's "Babymouse" books (Random), might want to take a look.—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

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