Phoebe and Her Unicorn #11: Camping with Unicorns – Dana Simpson

It’s time to hang out with Marigold Heavenly Nostrils’ favourite unicorn (herself, of course!) and her human, Phoebe.

Once again it’s summer vacation and there’s so much to do, once Phoebe winds down from school.

Phoebe attempts to teacher Marigold how to lie.

Max and Phoebe play hide and seek, and Phoebe and Marigold play some games where everyone wins. Well, sometimes. Meanwhile Dakota is enjoying all of the perks of being a goblin princess, from the the tiara to the luxury of being transported upon her “throne thingy”, complete with cup holders.

After spending so long being frenemies, Phoebe and Dakota decide it’s time to reboot their friendship. I wholeheartedly approve of this development because it means more Dakota! I love Dakota!

Phoebe and Max’s families go camping together. When they’re not roasting marshmallows around the campfire or attracting the local wildlife,

Phoebe, Max and Marigold enjoy nature (and meet a unicorn who is roughing it).

I learned that unicorns look even more adorable when they’re wearing swimsuits and discovered why schools are much more interesting during summer vacation. I tagged along with Marigold as she entertained herself while Phoebe was at school and decided Marigold’s favourite magical loophole is now one of my own favourites. Phoebe’s own loophole was a familiar one.

When I realised this collection would mostly take place during summer vacation I expected to see a rehash of previous summers with Phoebe and Marigold. I’m not sure if it’s just because I needed a unicorn fix but this collection felt really fresh. New characters were introduced and I learned something new about some I’ve known since the first collection.

I hope I don’t have to wait too long for my next magical unicorn fix. I’ll definitely be rereading this collection and most likely revisiting some earlier ones in the meantime.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Life is never boring when your best friend is a unicorn! The latest installment in this bestselling series is full of mischief, magic and adventure — as well as an important reminder to always stay true to yourself.

School’s out, so Phoebe and her unicorn best friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, have the entire summer to play games, visit the pool, and even go camping. Unicorn horns are excellent utensils for roasting things over the campfire, too, even if Marigold prefers toasted apples to s’mores. While exploring in the woods, Phoebe and friends meet a unicorn named Alabaster, who uses a special video game console that’s powered by plants. Throughout her summer adventures, Phoebe learns that being cool isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and that it’s much better to be your true self. It’s all part of the unforgettable experience of Camping with Unicorns

Charlie Brown: All Tied Up – Charles M. Schulz

I think we’ve established by now that whenever I find a new Peanuts collection I’m going to be compelled to tell you all about it. I grew up with these characters, both on screen and in books, and no matter what other comics find their way into my heart there will always be a special peanut shaped space reserved for Charlie Brown and his friends.

Eudora, one of my favourite minor characters, returns and this time she’s a student in Sally’s class rather than her summer camp friend. Sally introduces her to Charlie Brown.

The other characters are doing what they usually do. Lucy’s presence is a constant irritation to Schroeder, who just wants to be left in peace with his music. Peppermint Patty and Marcie are in class, while Linus is home in bed. Lucy suspects he’s faking his illness.

Snoopy antagonises the cat next door and plays hockey with Woodstock. Charlie Brown faces off against the kite eating tree. Lucy sulks and Peppermint Patty acknowledges defeat.

I always love comics that focus on Peppermint Patty and in this collection she falls in love!

She even gives what may be her best answer in class.

For some reason, while I love all of the other characters, I rarely find Snoopy funny. There were a lot of comics of him taking Woodstock and the rest of the troop on hikes and trying to figure out what type of bird Woodstock is. I’d much rather spend more time with the kids.

Overall it was still a lot of fun. I’m ready for the next collection now!

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this collection.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This year, Charlie Brown is determined to turn around his bad luck, lead his baseball team to victory, and fly his kite without interference from the dirty rotten kite-eating tree. 

While Charlie Brown is all tied up, the rest of the gang doesn’t hold back on having fun. Pig-Pen unexpectedly charms Peppermint Patty at the Valentine’s dance, Marcie and Snoopy run a commercial airline, and Lucy tries her hardest to win Schroeder’s affection. Whether you’re safe on the ground or tangled up in a tree like Charlie Brown, you won’t want to miss the fun in this latest Peanuts for kids adventure.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn #10: The Unicorn Whisperer – Dana Simpson

I really enjoyed this collection. While the previous couple of Phoebe and Her Unicorn books have still been fun to read, it also felt like I was largely reading about the same series of events in slightly different ways. This collection had a lot more variety and also introduced some new ideas and jokes to the usual reflection gazing and all round unicorn wonderment that makes this series both funny and heartwarming, with some enjoyable sarcasm and nerd points.

It’s a nice challenge, attempting to whittle down my numerous favourites and decide which ones to include here. We’ll start with an obvious favourite, when Phoebe’s love of reading overrides her need to do her homework.

Phoebe also makes a necessary improvement to her bedtime story.

While Phoebe is working on her history report (and no, it’s not allowed to be about unicorns again) Marigold catches up with Todd. Phoebe considers what her Halloween costume will be this year, begins to figure out her superhero origin story and gradually learns what her superpowers are.

Later Phoebe comes down with a case of sparkle fever and Marigold is offended during a game of Monopoly. Phoebe has a nightmare and Marigold has a good dream. Both attend a goblin opera and Marigold visits Concertina Lovelyflank’s Sugar Boutique.

Marigold regales Phoebe with some unicorn lore, including what happens if a unicorn stays too long at the beach and what unicorns believed shooting stars were. Phoebe learns the truth about the Tooth Fairy.

Marigold is always ready to lend some magic to help out her best friend, although the results can be quite unexpected.

I love that after all this time Marigold still has the ability to delight and surprise Phoebe (and myself).

Despite all of the magic this series remains relatable

and at its core lies a heartwarming interspecies friendship.

It’s lovely to take some time to remember the innocence of childhood and focus on the good, the funny and the magic that surrounds us, even if we aren’t lucky enough to have a unicorn as our best friend.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to love this graphic novel early.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

For 9-year-old Phoebe Howell and her sparkling companion, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, every day is an adventure. In this latest installation of Dana Simpson’s award-winning Phoebe and Her Unicorn series, Phoebe navigates the challenges of school life with a little help from her unicorn friend, who is always ready with the perfect spell for the occasion. But as the magic spells mount up, both Phoebe and Marigold find themselves wondering if sometimes they might be taking things just a little too far …

Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy #3: Time Trout – Doug Savage

When I read this graphic novel a couple of months ago I didn’t find it anywhere near as funny as I’d expected. I thought the first two Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy adventures were very giggle-worthy when I discovered them two years ago so naturally I needed to reread them. Now that I’ve reintroduced myself to my favourite moose that shoots lasers out of his eyes and his sidekick rabbit I wanted to reread Time Trout.

In The Traveler we meet, well, the traveler. Obviously! They’re human and pretty happy to have succeeded in their mission to travel back in time.

Their awe at the beauty of their surroundings quickly morphs into panic as they fall into the water, losing their futuristic flux capacitor in the process. Naturally a trout swallows this time travel device and almost immediately travels through time.

If future guy had bothered to watch Back to the Future they’d know that Deloreans are the only way to time travel (unless you have a spare train laying around) and have the advantage of being too large for anyone to accidentally ingest.

Anyway, our trout finds himself in the past, just before the time he became an important part of a disco ball chain reaction. This chain reaction was possibly caused by an evil chickadee, if in fact he is as evil as Laser Moose suspects.

Meanwhile, Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy are taking Frank to Doc because Laser Moose zaps his leg off (again!) before the story officially began. Poor Frank! For the first time in the series we actually get to meet the doctor who sews all of Frank’s accidentally amputated limbs back on.

On another one of the trout’s time jumps he accidentally brings Aquabear with him to the present. Eventually Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy join the trout in the future, just in time to witness the aliens from The Invasion arriving for their return visit. They’ve brought some friends with them this time. Our time travellers come up with a plan to hopefully fix everything that’s gone wrong so far and jump back into the time stream.

In The Aquabear the plan doesn’t go how it’s supposed to but it does result in Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy meeting Frank for the first time. Again. Poor Frank! Off to Doc we go! Despite everything that keeps going wrong the trout decides he likes this time travel business and wants to keep doing it, which leads us to The Falls where we almost get to witness Laser Moose’s origin story. Things go very wrong again before possibly going somewhere in the vicinity of right. During the course of events Laser Moose meets a new friend, Gonk the dinosaur,

who I hope will make their way into future adventures.

I definitely enjoyed Time Trout much more during my reread. Without the necessary context provided by the two previous graphic novels, repeated jokes and background details don’t have any significance. I also appreciated the cameos made by the eagle, the evil chickadee, Mechasquirrel and Gus in this graphic novel more the second time around. Disco Fever remains my favourite read of the series.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy return and just in time to save the day!     

A time-traveling fish is causing trouble for Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy in the past, present, and future. When the well-meaning Trout inadvertently changes the forest’s history, Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy need to set things right, with a little help from a raccoon doctor and a newly three-legged Frank the Deer. Along the way, they confront old enemies, new enemies, future threats, and Laser Moose’s own mysterious past. Get ready for an action thrill ride of time-bending fun!

Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy – Doug Savage

I loved the first two Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy graphic novels so when I didn’t click with the third one, rather than move on and accept defeat, I decided I had to go back to square one to figure out what went wrong.

So, here I am at the very beginning, with Rabbit Boy casually admiring the beauty of the stars and Laser Moose suspicious of the dark because it’s “fraught with danger …”.

Both are oblivious to what is to come.

This Invasion chapter looks like it could use the expertise of Mulder and Scully!

Following on from their close encounter, it’s Day of the Aquabear, where we meet danger.

Oops! It was only Frank! Don’t worry. This is an ongoing gag. Frank will be fine.

Then we meet danger. We really do this time. It’s Aquabear, who was a regular brown bear merrily going about his business, preparing to eat a tasty fish, when he was slimed by some toxic waste and transformed into potential baddie material.

After making things worse, then a lot worse and then better (maybe), it’s time for our new favourite moose with the laser eyes and his rabbit sidekick to face the Terror of Mechasquirrel, but first we meet Cyborgupine,

who I assume is the epitome of evil. After all, he says, “MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” With that many “HA’s” after his “MWA” you know he’s gonna be trouble, and he is. After all, he’s Laser Moose’s nemesis and he has a new trick up his sleeve.

It’s been just over two years since I first read this graphic novel and it’s easy to remember what I loved about it. It’s fun. It’s silly. It’s got a moose that shoots lasers out of his eyes!

I didn’t find it quite as funny during my second read, which is why I’m giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ instead of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ this time around. However, it’s still an enjoyable introduction to some unusual (but somehow still loveable) animals and I’m keen to reread Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy’s other adventures.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The forest is full of danger … but help is here. Meet Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy, improbable pals who use their powers – laser vision and an unrelenting sense of optimism – to fight the forces of evil. Join the dynamic duo as they battle aliens, a mutant fish-bear, a cyborg porcupine, and a mechanical squirrel, learning along the way that looking on the bright side might be just as powerful as shooting a laser.

Big Nate: Silent But Deadly – Lincoln Peirce

This is my first Big Nate read. Nate is a sixth grader who is well acquainted with detention.

I had no idea who was who before I started reading but I got a sense of each characters’ personality within this collection. While Nate annoyed me in the beginning, he began to grow on me towards the end of the collection. If I kept reading this series I think my favourite character would end up being one of Nate’s classmates rather than Nate himself, but I can see why kids would enjoy this series.

In this collection, Nate wants to be an undercover reporter for ‘The Bugle’. He also assists the school picture day photographer and discovers that students aren’t the only ones flashing their pearly whites.

Nate decides he wants to win the Student of the Month award, to the amusement of his long suffering teachers.

Gina and Francis face off in the Fact Town Smackdown, which ends with a cliffhanger.

Outside of school, Nate goes trick or treating, exchanges Christmas presents with his family and attempts to hide his report card from his father. He also surprises his father by doing some gardening. Sort of.

The comics were a mixed bag for me; some made me chuckle and others made me wish I was reading Peanuts instead. I understood the pop culture references but only because I’m old; I doubt kids would have even heard of Magnum P.I.

These strips appeared in newspapers from October 6, 2013, through March 29, 2014.

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Whether he’s showing the ropes to a detention rookie, campaigning for the Student of the Month Award, or writing hilarious movie reviews for The Weekly Bugle, Nate Wright never fails to make his mark at P.S. 38. But middle school’s no bed of roses. In fact, sometimes it just plain stinks. Just ask the Great Nose-ini! Nate’s alter ego with a sense for scents can smell trouble a mile away … or at the very next desk. Was that you, Gina?

Phoebe and Her Unicorn #9: Unicorn Bowling – Dana Simpson

Last time we saw them, Phoebe, Sue (Phoebe’s friend from camp), Max (Phoebe’s adorably nerdy friend) and their respective magical friends (Marigold, Ringo and Voltina) plus Marigold’s sister, Florence, were heading home from drama camp. I’ve loved the two graphic novels.

Now we’re back for another collection.

I learned that unicorn hiccups sparkle (of course they do!) and Marigold discovered the marvel that is bubble wrap. Phoebe’s father partook in some nostalgia and in the process made me feel really old because I remember those days too! Claustrophoebea and Pointyhead were back!

Phoebe doesn’t think she’s being assigned enough homework so Marigold provides some for her. Phoebe also nerds out about getting to make a diorama for school.

Phoebe and Marigold get somewhat serious when they discuss the meaning of life and Marigold regales Phoebe with multiple unicorn legends, some more recent than others. Dakota uses her vlog to bully Phoebe.

Marigold invites Phoebe to unicorn camp. Phoebe’s friend from camp, Sue, also attends but Ringo the lake monster is absent. While I was glad Max had a birthday party in this collection, I was sad his only guests appeared to be Phoebe and Marigold. Where was Voltina? She seems to only exist in the graphic novels. Also absent were the goblins who hang out with Dakota and some of Dakota’s personality.

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this collection.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A unicorn in bowling shoes is quite a STRIKE-ing sight. But for nine-year-old Phoebe Howell, it’s just another fun outing with her best friend, the illustrious unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. This unique and magical friendship is at the heart of the ninth Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection, which includes adventures such as writing original songs, publishing rival news websites, and making a summer visit to the exclusive Camp Shimmerhorn.

Life with a unicorn BFF is not without its challenges, however, and whether it’s homework, friction with classmates, or talent show jitters, Unicorn Bowling is full of amusing, heartwarming reminders that when the going gets tough, the tough get sparkling.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn #8: Phoebe and Her Unicorn in Unicorn Theater – Dana Simpson

Spoilers Ahead!

Voltina is back!!! I adored her when she was introduced in Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm because she’s a dragon and even more importantly, my favourite nerd, Max, finally had his very own friend/magical creature.

This is Phoebe and Marigold’s second graphic novel and this time they’re going to summer camp. I was glad they didn’t wind up at music camp again because that’s where they’ve always gone. This time they’re going to drama camp and Marigold’s sister, Florence Unfortunate Nostrils, is coming too. Interestingly, Florence’s nostrils aren’t as unfortunate as they have been previously.

Phoebe is initially jealous of the time the two unicorn sisters are spending together. Thankfully Sue and Max are also there, along with Ringo the lake monster and Voltina! Max is so adorably awkward and nerdy

and each time Sue says something weird I remember why I want her to star in her own graphic novel.

Unicorn transport is just as wonderful as I hoped it would be. With drama on and off the stage and some commentary about friendships and sisters, this is a lot of fun and a nice return to the graphic novel format. I’m crossing my fingers that Voltina makes her way into the collections as well as the graphic novels.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Summer is here, and Phoebe and Marigold are headed to drama camp. At Camp Thespis, Phoebe and her friends have their work cut out for them: writing, producing, and acting in an entirely original play! Phoebe’s expecting some quality time with her best friend, but in a surprise twist, Marigold has invited her sister, Florence Unfortunate Nostrils! The newest Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel is a sparkling tale of sisterhood and summer fun, as well as a reminder that sometimes it takes a bit of drama to rediscover true friendship.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn #7: Unicorn of Many Hats – Dana Simpson

After their first graphic novel adventure, Phoebe and Marigold are back for another collection of comics.

In this collection Phoebe and Marigold write fan letters and Marigold babysits Phoebe.

We learn that shimmering is better than glimmering. Marigold gets into a grooming competition with the cat and Max outnerds Phoebe.

We visit Marigold’s home for the first time. Phoebe and Marigold attend a dragon Halloween party where I learned I need rainbow-flame jack-o’-lanterns in my life. We meet Ralph, a kid in Phoebe’s class who isn’t Max or Dakota.

Dakota is still cool and rubbing Phoebe’s face in it and Marigold took a short break from admiring her own reflection to reflect on her friendship with Phoebe.

After absolutely adoring the graphic novel format, adventure and introduction of a wonderful new character, Voltina the dragon, in The Magic Storm, this collection of comics felt like a let down. Christmas, Halloween and summer seem to be covered in the majority of the collections I’ve read so far and a lot of the themes and jokes are repetitive. The actual target audience may not have a problem with this but I’m eager for material that feels new.

I was especially disappointed that Voltina didn’t make an appearance in this collection, which meant adorably nerdy Max is essentially alone again. Yes, he sort of has Phoebe sometimes but she’s not a good enough friend to even notice he’s being bullied when it’s happening right in front of her face. He deserves better.

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this collection.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Marigold Heavenly Nostrils is no ordinary unicorn. She has Wi-Fi-enabled appendages. She’s the most enchanted babysitter of all time. She’s published numerous scholarly articles on the “shimmering” versus “glimmering” debate. She is, in short, a unicorn of many hats.

Phoebe and her exceptional hooved pal are back in this all-new collection of comics! Laugh alongside the lovable duo as they question the idea of “coolness,” gain a deeper appreciation for the power of friendship, and put off summer reading assignments for as long as physically possible.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn #6: Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm – Dana Simpson

Before I tell you anything else you need to know there’s a DRAGON in this book!!! 💜💜💜 Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I can continue.

Marigold’s magical sensitivity is telling her something’s not quite right. This is confirmed when a pixie’s GPS fails and Marigold can only find one bar of magical reception. Meanwhile at Phoebe’s elementary school, the teachers and kids alike are anticipating a half day due to a rumoured ice storm.

Later that day Marigold can’t even sparkle anymore when, horror of horrors, magic and the wifi go down!

This is a job for Phoebegold Detective Agency! Dakota isn’t so sure that Phoebe has enough nerd power to solve this case though.

Because Marigold no longer has magic her Shield of Boringness is down, making the people she walks past actually respond to her unicorn awesomeness for the first time in the series.

Although Max has been Phoebe’s second best friend for a while now (after Marigold, of course) I was so happy that he made a new friend in this graphic novel, one he shares more interests with. He’s consistently one of my favourite characters so it was lovely to have him more involved in the storyline. I loved the gentle, age appropriate way that bullying, loneliness and friendships were addressed in this story.

I can’t get enough of Phoebe and Marigold. Phoebe, who was once a lonely young girl, now has a magical creature that looks at her like this and it’s adorable.

I loved learning that goblins have their own version of a unicorn’s Shield of Boringness called a Bubble of Non-Grossness. Let’s face it, maybe I just love the blarting goblins.

I fell in love with Voltina the dragon and can’t wait to see how much she features in future adventures.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the opportunity to read this graphic novel. After not being quite as enthralled by the last two collections I read, my love for Phoebe, Marigold and the rest of Dana Simpson’s creations has been renewed with this graphic novel. I’m looking forward to bingeing the rest of the series.

P.S. Happy Easter to everyone who celebrates it!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The first Phoebe and Her Unicorn graphic novel!

Phoebe and Marigold decide to investigate a powerful storm that is wreaking havoc with the electricity in their town. The adults think it’s just winter weather, but Phoebe and Marigold soon discover that all is not what it seems to be, and that the storm may have a magical cause. To solve the case, they team up with Max, who is desperate for the electricity to return so he can play video games, and frenemy Dakota, who is aided by her goblin minions. Together, they must get to the bottom of the mystery and save the town from the magic storm.