Review: ‘Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater’
Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater
by Dana Simpson
Andrews McMeel Publishing, $9.99
The eighth book in the imaginative series about a girl and her unicorn best friend is also the second original graphic novel (after Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm; the others reprint comic strips), making it a never-before-seen longer story.
Phoebe is headed to drama camp. The unicorn Marigold accompanies her but is distracted by a visit from her sister, making Phoebe jealous and a little lonely. All of her other friends have their own magical creature buddies — Sue is pen pals with the camp lake monster, Ringo, and Max met an electric dragon in The Magic Storm. Nevertheless, Phoebe continues working on her camp project, a musical about friendship.
The storytelling is simple and straightforward, but the challenge, of what it means for your best friend to have other friends, is emotionally involving. The character design is fun to read, particularly the unicorn sister Florence, who has glasses and a wavy pink mane. Unicorn Theater skews young, with lessons spelled out as the characters talk through their feelings, but Simpson does an excellent job of balancing realistic motivations and the weird magic of a self-obsessed unicorn with plenty of humor.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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