Phoebes, unicorns, and Phoebe’s unicorns


I may not have told you this, but Phoebe is a big fan of unicorns. I honestly can’t tell you when the obsession began. To the best of my knowledge, she has never actually met a unicorn.¹ However, like them she does.



Photos of Phoebe’s drawing of pegasus-unicorns, Phoebe in her unicorn snow hat with a snowball, and Phoebe playing the violin in a borrowed unicorn hat.

When we were planning her 6th birthday party, Phoebe had elaborate and entirely infeasible plans involving building a multi-level fort in her bedroom, complete with a pulley using ribbon to pull her party guests up to the upper levels. She also wanted to wear a unicorn costume, and had ideas about how I could make one for her. For the weeks (possibly even months) leading up to her birthday, the topic of her party came up frequently. Over and over, I managed to put off committing to a definite plan. Eventually, we broke it to Phoebe that we couldn’t do her unicorn-costumed fantasy birthday party.

However I did manage to make some unicorn cupcakes to ease her pain. Rainbow unicorn cupcakes.
rainbow unicorn cupcakes

But now we’ve got something even better. There is a new cartoon out there about a little girl named Phoebe. And a unicorn:

Here’s the description from Go Comics, where the cartoon is syndicated:

It all started when Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and using it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection?

The cartoon is by Dana Simpson, and called Heavenly Nostrils,² and you should check it out. Right. Now. (Start with the full-color first day strip from Sunday. I’ll wait.)

Is it just me, or does this Phoebe look a little like our Phoebe? All the cartoon Phoebe is missing are real Phoebe’s giant blue cartoon eyes.

John has long been a fan of Simpson’s work, especially the long-running strip Ozy and Millie, and he used to periodically send me links to those. (Like this one.) And now I’m at risk of being a crazy fangirl myself.

I find Simpson’s artwork to be charming and the premise of Heavenly Nostrils engaging. It may not shock you to learn that I was once a nine-year-old daydreamer, myself. (In fact, I was once a 6-year-old daydreamer.³) To top it all off, I think Dana Simpson is super cool. I emailed her to ask to use some images, and she not only wrote back to give permission, but was über nice.

I’m thinking that if John and I had played our cards right, we could have pretended that the whole cartoon strip was a present from us: “Phoebe, we know how much you like unicorns, and so we arranged for this comic strip about a little girl named Phoebe and her unicorn best friend to be made for you. Happy birthday.” The main trouble with this, though, is that we’d have trouble matching this level of gift in future years. She might expect us to have a movie made, or have a museum wing named after her. Better just to give her some new socks and a roll of scotch tape, and then she will have beautifully low expectations.⁴

¹ When Phoebe was 3, she was obsessed with fires, firefighters and firetrucks. However, she had seen real firetrucks, met real firefighters, and even seen the effect of a real fire on a real burned-out building. How could a girl resist? But apparently little girls like unicorns, too.
² The title has apparently generated some criticism as being “too silly.” As if there could be such a thing.
³ I was also once a 39-year-old daydreamer.
⁴ Though she really does love to use tape.

Image credits: Heavenly Nostrils artwork by Dana Simpson from Ink & White Space, used with permission from Dana herself, because she is that cool. Pegasus-unicorns flying among clouds and rainbow artwork by Phoebe Lenore, used without her permission because it’s 10 at night and she’s in bed right now. The rainbow unicorn cupcake photo is mine, all mine. And the two of Phoebe in unicorn hats. But neither of the hats is mine.

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21 responses to “Phoebes, unicorns, and Phoebe’s unicorns

  1. Hi Alejna —

    Coincidentally, today is Tam Kung’s Birthday — and on the Taoist God’s birthday, there’s a parade featuring lion, dragon and, yes, unicorns! ;b

    http://webs-of-significance.blogspot.com/2008/05/festival-time-in-shau-kei-wan-photo.html

    From another year but I figured you and Phoebe might like to have a look at at least one unicorn-themed photo in there! :b

    • Hi, YTSL! Thanks for sharing that link. Those Hong Kong unicorns look so different from Western interpretations of the creature. Fascinating! Do you know anything about the mythology? Whereas I can see lion in the lions, I have trouble identifying horsiness in those unicorns.

  2. Obsessions are curious things. KayTar’s start with a single sock monkey hat…and now it has *almost* overtaken her whole bed. When I snuggle with her at bedtime, I’m usually laying on no fewer than 10 monkeys. LOL.

    I LOVE that photo of her with the unicorn hat, playing her violin outside. Awesomeness.

    That is a pretty amazing coincidence!!

    • I wondered about KayTar’s sock monkey obsession, Kyla. I didn’t realize that it had all started with the hat! Who could have guessed that one hat would lead to such an avalanche of sock monkeys?

      Theo also has a sock monkey hat, which he chose, and which he likes, but he has been otherwise not particularly interested in sock monkeys. Come to think of it, we did get him a sock monkey when he was a baby, but it was never really his preferred stuffed animal.

  3. I LOVE Ozy & Millie. I bought both books a few years ago and keep them at hand for laughs & inspiration. I’ll definitely start reading this new cartoon.

    And more to the point of your post, what a charming little girl you have there. I especially like the photo of her playing her violin in a unicorn hat. Tres chic!

    • Oh, how cool that you are an Oz & Millie fan. I’m glad I could introduce you to the new comic!

      And thanks for the compliment to Phoebe. I agree that she is quite charming, but I may be somewhat biased. I do like that photo, too, thanks!

  4. Wow, this is really great! The cartoon Phoebe does look quite a lot like your Phoebe, and it looks like Heavenly Nostrils is going to be really fun to keep up with!
    Are there any stories about firefighting unicorns?

    • Hi, Sally! Isn’t it great? I don’t think Phoebe actually yet appreciates how very cool it is. (When you are six, you tend to accept most things as normal.) And I do find the resemblance striking. Our Phoebe even has freckles now, which I just find adorable.

      We’ll have to stay tuned to see if there are any firefighting unicorns. I really can’t guess where she is going!

  5. Wow that’s a very cool coincidence.

    When I was a kid my parents ordered a special personalized book for my brother– the company swapped in his name for the main character and then added his siblings, friends, probably the name of his street or something. It was about a giraffe and that’s all I remember. At a time before photoshop and home printers it was a pretty big deal, although I’m sure there are probably companies offering the same thing today. And, my brother, who wasn’t in any way obsessed with giraffes, was stuck with the giraffe story– they didn’t personalize it THAT much. For the Phoebe/unicorn thing to come about at exactly the right time with no intervention/payments/bribes on your part is pretty amazing.

    • I remember seeing ads for those personalized books when I was little, bittertwee. They seemed like such a big deal. It’s funny how easy that sort of thing would be to do these days. We are so jaded.

      And yeah, it is a super cool coincidence. It didn’t cost us a thing!

  6. Perfect.

  7. fantastic. and fantastical.

    i got a house for Valentine’s day 2011. there’s no topping that. although one could say that the amount of work that followed the getting of the house sort of negates the excitement of the gift. it’s hard to say… perhaps I enjoyed this year’s chocolate covered strawberries more. They didn’t require sanding or painting or nailing or ….

    • Yes, houses are very complicated presents, indeed. For years and years I looked forward to owning a house, thinking how much nicer to be not to “throw away” rent money every month. But since we have owned a home, there have been many times when I have missed being able to just foist off the problems onto the landlord. Chocolate covered strawberries have probably never had that effect.

  8. So very neat.

  9. That comic looks fantastic. M and I will read it daily–unless it gets racy, at which point I will continue to read it on the sly.

    • I’m glad you and M will read it, Sue! I’m inclined to think it won’t veer off into racy territory. (At least I hope not, given that cartoon Phoebe is 9.) But it does show hints of getting into political commentary. It will be interesting to see where it does go.

  10. Thanks for the rec. That comic looks super fun.

  11. Phoebe might like this piece of trivia: the name for a unicorn with wings is an “alicorn.” Honestly, the things you learn on DeviantArt!

  12. Pingback: Sparkle + unicorn – uni | collecting tokens

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