Review by Woodrow Phoenix
This is another in the ongoing series of Phoebe and Her Unicorn volumes, but potential purchasers be warned: this is not a new book. The Spellbinding Episodes of Phoebe and Her Unicorn is instead a ‘deluxe bind-up’ reprinting the complete contents of two early Phoebe and Her Unicorn books: volume three, Unicorns vs. Goblins and volume four, Razzle Dazzle Unicorn. There is no additional material in this reprint apart from the new cover, so nothing here for readers who have seen the books before. The ‘deluxe’ element is also somewhat overstated; it’s just a standard softcover with no fancy printing, binding or any other embellishments. This would all be obvious to anyone looking at this volume in an actual, real-world bookstore, but those purchasing books online are more likely to mistakenly buy a copy of something they have already.
For anyone unfamiliar with Dana Simpson’s newspaper strip, this chunky collection features all the situations making up a typical visit with nine-year-old Phoebe Howell and the unicorn she rescued from a sticky predicament to become her best friend. Marigold Heavenly Nostrils reveals all kinds of information about the enchanted world of unicorns as the pair spend time together, which includes introducing Phoebe to other unicorns such as Marigold’s less attractive sister, Florence Unfortunate Nostrils; the most fabulous of all unicorns, Lord Splendid Humility; Todd, the dragon whose speciality is producing any quantity of ice cream and candy at will (although not in the most appealing way); a lake-dwelling monster who likes tacos, and little green goblins.
All these and more quirky details unfold in a gentle and undemanding way with simple, colourful artwork to delight middle-grade readers although the diverse range of creatures sadly isn’t matched by the exclusively white and suburban children in these strips. Adults will find it all a little repetitive, but they will appreciate the prompts for children to increase their vocabularies with the glossary explaining the long words that Marigold likes to use.