Phoebe and Her Unicorn #12: Virtual Unicorn Experience – Dana Simpson

It’s no secret how much I love this series. There are unicorns, magic and nerds. What’s not to love?! Although it’s technically a series for kids, this adult finds it delightful. The friendship between this unicorn and her nerd is really sweet, full of mutual admiration, laughter and a healthy dose of sarcasm.

In this collection we learn that Marigold floats when she’s complimented. As she fishes for compliments a lot I would have thought we’d already know about the floating but this is new information for both Phoebe and me.

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Phoebe learns the Unicorn Investigative Agency has her under surveillance. The solution? A sparkle transfusion! Of course, this doesn’t exactly go to plan.

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Phoebe finds out what life without a phone is like. Marigold attends an audition and it’s Phoebe’s job to distract her until she finds out the result. Phoebe enjoys one of life’s pleasures – falling asleep to the sound of rain.

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We learn that Marigold has a magical pocket dimension, which could be the answer to all of your storage needs. Phoebe performs in a talent show and Marigold has jury duty. We discover that Marigold went through a goth phase.

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My favourite chuckle was when Marigold showed us how good she looks in pink.

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I enjoyed seeing a couple of different sides to Dakota. I was disappointed by the comics that included Max though. His character has so much potential but he wasn’t given a lot to do in this collection.

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Marigold Heavenly Nostrils is one magical unicorn – and she knows it! But sometimes it’s harder for humans like Phoebe to understand that they can be magical, too. In the latest Phoebe and Her Unicorn adventure, the pair visits the science museum, tests out an extra-special virtual unicorn reality, and performs in the school talent show. With the help of her best friend and an emergency sparkle transfusion, Phoebe learns about confidence, empathy, and resilience – and even how to live without her cellphone. It’s all part of the very real excitement of Virtual Unicorn Experience.

Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns #6: Who Turned Off the Colours? – Matthew K. Manning

Illustrations – Joey Ellis

So, here we are at the end of this series. After my initial delight at the strange concept and the fun I had visiting a couple of other dimensions, I’m finishing the series disappointed.

Xander has somehow caught the virus that made his unicorn friends zombies. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for this to happen or why it happens at the same time to all of the people who have interacted with the unicorns, regardless of when they watched the magic show.

Xander and the other humans have different symptoms to the unicorns. Instead of vomiting rainbows, they lose all of their colours. Even their clothing turns grey. It’s up to Xander, Cradie, Blep and Ronk to figure out a way to restore colour to the humans.

I had a whole bunch of questions throughout the series that I was looking forward to having answered when I made it to the final book. I didn’t get a single question answered.

The lack of attention to detail in the series really bugs me now. It was always something I noticed but it began to impact on my enjoyment of the series in book five.

This time around the main problem I had related to the central plot. So, Xander has lost his colours.

In fact, his skin was grey, his hair was a darker grey. Even his clothing was grey!

Two pages later …

He was wearing a bright purple onesie, but he was too worried to be embarrassed.

Seven pages after that …

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Xander’s onesie is purple, his bunny slippers (which are certainly cute) are pink and the inside of his mouth isn’t grey either! Kids notice inconsistencies like these. It makes me wonder if the publisher lost interest in this series as it progressed.

Until book five, whenever Ronk said, “Ronk!” the word was always green and in a different font; in the final two books it’s blue for some reason. Cradie and Blep have also previously had colours specific to them when they vomit rainbows. These are also blue in this book. Later in the book there are places where the text is entirely normal. I would have thought this was clever if it related to Xander but the unicorns didn’t lose their colours in this book.

At the end of this book there’s a glossary, barf words (these have been the same in each book), jokes and a character spotlight where you learn more about Xander.

Up next: Start figuring out next year’s 🦄 Unicorn Day! 🦄 read/s.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The Rainbow-Barfing Unicorn virus hasn’t infected humans … until now! In this adventure, twelve-year-old Xander contracts the mysterious virus of the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns. The virus gives the unicorns their barfing abilities, but it’s having the opposite effect on Xander – it’s draining him of any colour at all! Xander’s fate lies in the hands – er, hooves – of Ronk, the most dimwitted of all Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns. This is not good. In fact, this is bad – really, really bad.

Plump-full of grotesquely delightful characters and fantastical realms, Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns is so epic it’ll make you wanna puke.

Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns #5: Fairies Hate Ponies – Matthew K. Manning

Illustrations – Joey Ellis

I love visiting the other dimensions and the flashbacks of the unicorns’ time before they became zombies so this book felt a bit tedious in comparison. Most of the time we’re either hanging out at the Montgomery Orchard or the landfill next door.

There are some new characters in this book, several thousand of them in fact. Insect fairies from Pegasia are sick of all of the sweetness and adorability of their home so they hitch a ride through a portal to see what Earth has to offer. They like what they see and decide to stay, but this doesn’t bode well for Cradie, Blep and Ronk; if humans discover these magical creatures they’re sure to be locked up and experimented on.

I thought insect fairies would be interesting characters but I found them annoying. We only really get to know Willibop, who’s pretty cantankerous. Because this book basically felt like an exercise in pest control, my mind started to wander.

I keep wondering what Xander’s parents know about the unicorns. Their son is the person who introduces the unicorns during the weekend shows and given how popular the shows are supposed to be, have these parents seen the show? Asked Xander where he got the ‘ponies’?

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After searching for Stalor in another dimension, the unicorns seem to have forgotten all about him. I’m not sure if he even survived the events in The Search for Stalor.

Then I thought about the zombie virus the unicorns were infected with. Is there a cure they could be looking for? Is there going to be any information about the origin of the meteorite that brought the zombie disease to Pegasia?

Is Xander finally going to admit his crush to Kelly? Is Kelly going to finally figure out that there are unicorns in her aunt’s orchard? Is Kelly’s aunt going to figure it out? With only one book left in the series I’m really hoping for some answers to at least some of my questions.

Ronk has randomly been described as grey during the series, which makes me wonder if he was originally going to be that colour. Most of the time he’s described as green and is always pictured that colour. In previous books, whenever Ronk says, “Ronk!” the word was always green; in this book it’s blue for some reason.

At the end of this book there’s a glossary, barf words (these have been the same in each book), jokes and a character spotlight where you learn more about Willibop, the insect fairy.

Up next: Who Turned Off the Colours?

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Xander discovers a new magical creature – millions of them, actually! In this adventure, a swarm of insects threatens the Montgomery Orchard and twelve-year-old Xander’s fruitful summer job. Luckily, the so-called bugs aren’t actually bugs. Unluckily, they’re miniature, unicorn-hating, insect fairies from the magical world of Pegasia!

If Xander and his team of Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns can’t rid the orchard of these no-good fairies, their secret will be blown quicker than a stomach-load of full-spectrum chunks. Plump-full of grotesquely delightful characters and fantastical realms, Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns is so epic it’ll make you wanna puke.

Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns #4: Return to Pegasia – Matthew K. Manning

Illustrations – Joey Ellis

🦄 9 April is Unicorn Day! 🦄

I need to live in visit Pegasia, this marvellous world that Willy Wonka would be proud to call home.

The clouds are candyfloss. The dirt is crushed chocolate cookies.

There’s a chocolate milk river (actually, that reminds me very much of Mr Wonka’s chocolate river).

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The unicorns smell good enough to eat. Note to self: Don’t eat the unicorns!

We get to meet more unicorns in this book. My favourite new unicorn was Cradie’s best friend from Pegasia, Bubblegum Taffy! She’s pink and she’s adorable! I will never be accused of having her problems.

My mother had been worried I wasn’t eating enough sweets.

It’s taken until the fourth book but we finally got around to the topic of unicorn farts. It had to happen eventually. The first offender is Bubblegum Taffy and her farts smell like bubblegum! Naturally!

After hearing all about it for over a month, Xander finally gets to visit Pegasia for himself.

It’s a magical place of dreams and wonder!

The unicorns’ distrust of humans is again validated, although this book’s ‘villain’ is much lower on the diabolical scale than the previous one. We also discover how appropriate the unicorn world’s name is.

At the end of this book there’s a glossary, barf words (these have been the same in each book), jokes (I’ve stopped reading these now; I find them repetitive and groan worthy) and a character spotlight where you learn more about Cradie, with her broken leg and weird but cool uni-skull tattoo.

Up next: Fairies Hate Ponies

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Once banished for being zombie-like creatures, the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns return to their home of Pegasia. Twelve-year-old Xander travels along and discovers a world of sugary sweet, fruit-flavoured unicorns – which is a problem, since the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns are HUNGRY!

Plump-full of grotesquely delightful characters and fantastical realms, the adventures of Xander and his team of Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns are so epic they’ll make you want to puke.

Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns #3: Revenge of the One-Trick Pony – Matthew K. Manning

Illustrations – Joey Ellis

🦄 9 April is Unicorn Day! 🦄

After finding Stalor (briefly) in The Search for Stalor, Xander and the three original rainbow-barfing unicorns, Cradie, Blep and Ronk, are preparing for another performance at Montgomery Orchard. Meanwhile, we’re introduced to our villain and given their backstory.

Unicorns have always feared humans knowing of their existence. They’re certain that if they’re found out they will be imprisoned and experimented on. This book’s Big Bad proves that humans are not to be trusted. We can still trust Xander though; he’s a kid so he doesn’t count.

With their home world of Pegasia boasting such delicacies as candy floss clouds and a chocolate mousse lake, it seemed appropriate that two of the Big Bad’s henchmen were called Ben and Jerry.

I loved learning more about Pegasia and the history of the unicorns. I particularly appreciated the connection between the Big Bad and the mention of something in the first book that seemed irrelevant at the time.

I am really enjoying Joey Ellis’ illustrations. There are still some inconsistencies between the text and images in this book but I couldn’t be bothered explaining the differences. My favourite illustrations were heartwarming

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and funny.

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But as it turned out, even a rainbow looks gross when it’s barfed up.

As disgusting as it sounds, I want to know the consistency of this rainbow vomit and whether it magically disappears if you accidentally come into contact with it.

At the end of this book there’s a glossary, barf words (the same ones that were included in the first book), jokes (over half of these are recycled from previous books) and a character spotlight where you learn more about Blep, with his stumpy horn and underbite.

Up next: Return to Pegasia

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

The secret of the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns is out and that makes Xander Stone sick! Twelve-year-old Xander is the only person on Earth who knows about the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns. Except, of course, for a rich and crazy billionaire who will stop at nothing to capture these zombielike, upchucking creatures and get even richer and crazier!

Xander and the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns #2: The Search for Stalor – Matthew K. Manning

Illustrations – Joey Ellis

Spoilers Ahead!

🦄 9 April is Unicorn Day! 🦄

It didn’t seem fair. You try to eat one unicorn’s delicious-smelling hoof, and they kick you out of your world completely.

In Magic Smells Awful we were introduced to 12 year old Xander, whose belief in magic is finally validated when he sees rainbows shooting across the sky. After following the rainbows to their source he discovers three unicorns.

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Cradie, Blep and Ronk aren’t ordinary unicorns. They barf rainbows and have been banished from their home, Pegasia.

“Who did what in the where now?”

This trio weren’t the only ones banished that day. Stalor, the most handsome unicorn on Pegasia, also made his way through the portal but was separated from the rest of the unicorns before they reached Earth. At Cradie’s insistence, Xander and the unicorns set out to find Stalor. Just between you and I, Cradie has a bit of a crush on Mr Handsome.

Their search takes them through another portal, one that I was expecting would lead to Pegasia. Instead, they wind up in another world altogether – Shushyerbum (I’m pretty sure kids will love that name). Once there, Xander is separated from his friends and meets Tobias, a mouse-bear. Oops, sorry. Tobias is a Mear. That other term is offensive to Mears.

For another dimension, this world was suspiciously like Earth. And then all of a sudden, it wasn’t.

From the first time he was mentioned I was suspicious of Stalor. I suspect he will grow on me eventually. Now that it’s been confirmed there are other dimensions out there I hope to have the opportunity to visit some more.

The differences between the details of the text and the illustrations I noticed in Magic Smells Awful remain here. I found a few new discrepancies in this book. When the unicorns are described as having reins on them Cradie is pictured without them. Xander is supposed to be wearing a special metal hat, yet he is wearing his usual cap when he and Tobias leap off a cliff and again when they’re inside a cave.

At the end of this book there’s a glossary, barf words (the same ones that were included in the first book), jokes and a character spotlight where you learn more about Stalor, with his receding hairline and perfect teeth.

Up next: Revenge of the One-Trick Pony

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Xander Stone must save the handsomest of all Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns! In this installment, the handsomest of all Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns, Stalor, is missing. (P.S. He’s not really that handsome.) Twelve-year-old Xander and his other stinky, zombielike, upchucking unicorns set out to find him. Their naively heroic quest leads them to another dimension ruled by a diabolically bizarre king. Can the Rainbow-Barfing Unicorns save their relatively handsome friend, or will the plan throw up in their faces? 

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

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 …

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.