If you have read any of the previous three volumes of the Phoebe and her Unicorn adventures, then you are well versed in Dana Simpson’s deadpan and highly entertaining series about a girl and her unicorn best friend. In volume four, Phoebe and Marigold debate the merits of human versus unicorn holidays, and Marigold develops a serious case of sparkle jealousy towards the family’s Christmas tree. Thanksgiving and summer also make appearances in this volume that fast forwards through Phoebe’s school year to back to her summer camp for budding musicians and the friends that she made in volume three. Appearances are also made by Phoebe’s parents, her frenemy Dakota, the goblin Blart, her best (human) friend Max, her best summer camp friend Sue, and the refined and gentlemanly lake monster Ringo.

Phoebe and her Unicorn originally appeared as a webcomic, then as a syndicated newspaper strip, and subsequently the narrative is told in shortly plotted interludes that most often take place in four panels on a page. Only rarely does a particular episode last more than a page or two. Storylines in this fourth volume are ongoing from the first three, but children can read this series in any order and still understand what is at its heart: a story of friendship between a girl and her unicorn.

Dana Simpson’s art is simple and whimsical. Since she is both the writer and the artist, the pictures and words flow seamlessly. In fact, in the back of the book she walks readers through her creative process from rough draft to finished panel. The characters in the story are the artist’s main focus in each of the panels, while the backgrounds are most frequently shaded colors, a few trees, or a piece of furniture that helps to designate the common locales of summer camp, Phoebe’s school, or her home. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of sparkles both on the cover and inside the book to satisfy fans.

This book will appeal to elementary school kids and middle school readers. Fans of unicorns, graphic novels about unusual friendships, and connoisseurs of Calvin and Hobbes will find a lot to love here. The surface level plot is enough to keep casual and beginning readers interested, but the diction is diverse and full of interesting words for older readers to munch on. There are also inside jokes and nuggets to be found throughout the book for older readers.

This might be volume four, but Phoebe and Her Unicorn just keeps on rolling. As the world expands with more friends and experiences we get to see Phoebe grapple with more complex social interactions, family developments, and deep life musings all the while with her best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, at her side. Unicorns truly are a girl’s best friend.

Razzle Dazzle Unicorn: Another Phoebe and her Unicorn Adventure, vol. 4
by Dana Simpson
Art by Dana Simpson
ISBN: 9781449477912
amp!, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: All ages

  • Danielle Boyd

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Danielle Boyd worked hard through four years of college at the University of Idaho to receive a BS in Business Economics. When she woke up from nightmares of office jobs during her final semester she immediately turned around and pursued a MLS from the University of North Texas in 2011. Between degrees she worked for two years at Captain Comics where her love of X-Men comics and all things Wonder Woman turned into a money-hogging obsession. She is a diehard DC fan and will argue the merits of Superman over Batman all day long. When adulthood came calling in 2014 she became a Youth Services Librarian at the Main Library branch of the Boise Public Library in Boise, Idaho. She currently creates and promotes programs at the library based on all forms of geekery and nerdiness as well as peddling comics to patrons, staff, and family members at every opportunity.

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