Anyone who has been reading the adventures of Phoebe and Her Unicorn in previous books will know what to expect in Unicorn Crossing, volume five of Dana Simpson’s collected newspaper strips. And they will get pretty much exactly what they expect because Simpson does not deviate very far from the template she established in the first year of this series. Phoebe and Marigold Heavenly Nostrils have a lot of conversations about just how special and unique their relationship is, with plenty of references to the beauty of unicorns. Phoebe has to contend with Dakota, another little girl in her class at school who has magical friends too: in her case, little green goblins who speak a language nobody understands – except for Marigold.

These books unfold to the rhythms of the school year, structured by the big events of Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Summer vacation. There is a long build up to Halloween in this volume, as Marigold decides to throw Phoebe a surprise party. And then there is a whole week of unicorn withdrawal when Marigold goes away to a unicorn spa and Phoebe has to adjust to being an ordinary girl with no magic, which is a much trickier transition than she expects. Other secrets revealed about the world of unicorns include Marigold’s method for reading her favourite books over and over without getting bored with them: a forgetfulness spell which means she doesn’t remember having read them before. But as always with magic, the user has to be very careful not to overdo it. And if you are curious about what happens at a unicorn crossing, as seen on the cover of this volume, turn to page 113, where all will be revealed.

The next book in the series is The Magic Storm.