Mini Review: Linnets and Valerians by Elizabeth Goudge

Linnets and Valerians is full of all the best things that I loved about The Little White Horse with none of its overt moralizing and proselytizing. It’s about four children, ages 6 to 12, who run away from their grandmother and fortuitously end up at their uncle’s. They eat mouth-wateringly described food, romp all over sun-soaked hills bursting with color and smells, and proceed to have a glorious adventure by thwarting the “evil witch’s” wicked plans.

At its heart Linnets and Valerians is about magic—the magic of finding your heart’s family, the magic of nature, and well, the kind of magic which looks like magic but is also not that hard to rationalize. There’s also a very un-monkey like monkey, a man who could be a gnome, and madam queen and other bees who weave their own enchantment.

As with The Little White Horse, my favorite part remains Goudge’s writing—fat, gorgeous, luminescent words that paint evocative scenes which spring up in the mind’s eye fully realized, and vividly colored:

She stood and looked about her and she wondered if there was any place anywhere more lovely and strange than this, poised here half-way between the world of trees and of the clouds. It was a miniature green valley, almost like a garden, held in a cleft of the rock. . . . A small stream ran down the center of it and fell over the edge of the cliff down to the trees below, and the banks of the stream were thick with forget-me-nots and green ferns. There were flowers everywhere in the grass and more ferns and little rowan trees grew up  the sides of the valley. Nan put her flowers into a pool between two stones at the edge of the stream, to get a good drink, and she had a drink herself, lifting the water in her cupped hands.

Cozy, funny, generous, and delightful are all terms that can be liberally and aptly applied to Linnets and Valerians. It was such a satisfying read that it’s made me want to ILL my next Elizabeth Goudge book!

Elizabeth Goudge, The Little White Horse

So let me begin by saying what did NOT work for me—namely, a few of the Christian themes that are integral to the structure of The Little White Horse, plus a couple of other philosophical ideas that underpin the book:

(i) The idea that a “sin” committed by an ancestor continues to have repercussions for each successive generation till somebody “atones” for it

(ii) The very idea of “sin”

(iii) That curiousity in a female is bad (though to be fair to Elizabeth Goudge, it seemed that Maria paid little attention to this one)

(iv) That for a relationship/marriage to thrive one must never quarrel (as italicized in the book). Though this became more understandable in context of what’s revealed later in the story, it still wielded a weight that makes me put it up here in this list.

Elizabeth Goudge The Little White HorseI’m pointing these things out not to debate their rightness or wrongness or to discuss whether they’re an accurate representation of Christianity (I’ve no idea); I’m mentioning them because it was difficult for me to look past these notions and continue enjoying the story. (Also, that Maria gets married at age 14/15—maybe this was in keeping with the times (1840s) that the story is set in, and also the fact that The Little White Horse is a bit fantasy-ish but in the wake of the other things that I mentioned above, this last seemingly trivial bit just made me want the story to finish already! And if the book hadn’t been an Inter Library Loan, I doubt I’d have bothered to finish it at all)

When we begin, Maria is a 13-year-old orphan who’s on her way to Moonacre Manor in the village of Silverydew. Let me pause to reflect on these names because firstly, they are lovely, and secondly it becomes clear very early on that “silver” is of some significance in the story. Maria is accompanied by her companion Miss Heliotrope who’s looked after her and loved her since she was a baby. There’s also Wiggins, a spaniel, who’s equally lovely and vain.

They meet up with Maria’s only living relative, Sir Benjamin Merryweather, who’s genial, sharp-eyed, and exactly the kind of guardian that Maria could have wished for. Rounding off Sir Benjamin’s household are a dog-who’s-the-most-unlikely-looking-dog there ever was, a cat who communicates by drawing in the ashes, and a cook who happens to be a dwarf. We don’t get to meet these characters all at once. Instead, Goudge reveals them to us one at a time, drawing us deeper into the mystery that surrounds Moonacre Manor. All this I lapped up without batting an eyelash. Goudge is simply superb at creating a highly atmospheric setting—one can feel the hint of sinisterness lurking beneath the unabashed joy of the Moonacre Valley and the Silverydew village.

And this brings me to the aspect of The Little White Horse that I loved the most—the descriptions! I adore an author who gives a free rein to their words, letting it all tumble out, with no eye to restraint. Goudge’s descriptions are lush, detailed, and awash in colors. She fills in her scenes with such texture and dimensionality that you can’t but see the whole thing in your mind’s eye. This is true for all of her food scenes as well! I LOVE food, and I love that Goudge is so persnickety when it comes to laying out and describing all the food items that Maria consumes in the book.

But when she looked again there was nothing to be seen except the tangled briars and all the lovely little birds with their rainbow-coloured wings. They were singing gloriously this morning, twittering and chirping and caroling and shouting and fluting and humming in praise of spring, until it was a wonder they did not burst their throats.

Another example to illustrate what I mean—a description of the place where all the food is prepared! It was a toss-up between this and Maria’s room, both places that I would love to live in!

Maria, in the kitchen, once more stood and gazed. The kitchen was glorious, flagged with great stone flags scrubbed to the whiteness of snow, and nearly as big as the hall. Its ceiling was crossed by great oak beams from which hung flitches of bacon and bunches of onions and herbs. It had two open fireplaces, one for boiling stews, and cooking pies, and another, with a spit, for roasting. There were two oval bread-ovens set in the thickness of the wall, and pans, so well polished that they reflected the light like mirrors. There was a large wash-tub in one corner, and against the wall an enormous oak dresser where pretty china stood in neat rows; and an oak table stood in the center of the room. There were several doors which Maria guessed led to the larders and the dairy. The windows looked out over the stable-yard, so that the morning sun filled the room, and the whole place was merry and bright and warm and scrupulously clean. There were no chairs, but a wooden bench against the wall, and several three-legged wooden stools. One of these stools had been pulled up to the table, and standing upon it, facing Maria as she came in, was a little hunchbacked dwarf making pastry.

Throughout the book, Goudge invokes the moon and the sun as two types of Merryweather personalities. Balance between the two is important for a happy life in Goudge’s world. I don’t have a quarrel with that. Balance is important in all our lives, I agree. But Goudge’s frequent use of the silver-gold motif (especially the silver) left me feeling a little worn out. I wonder if this motif/mythology has any real world significance as well. Anyone know?

Also, as a counterpoint to things I mentioned at the start, here’s a bit of of Goudge’s representation of Christianity that did work for me:

Maria had never heard anyone pray like this Old Parson, and the way that he did it made her tremble all over with awe and joy. For he talked to God as if he were not only up in heaven, but standing beside him in the pulpit. And not only standing beside him but beside every man, woman, and child in the church—God came alive for Maria as he prayed, and she was so excited and happy that she could hardly draw her breath.

I’m pretty sure I read some of Goudge’s children’s books as a kid but for some reason I have absolutely no recollection of their overtly Christian themes. Maybe it just went right over my head? I still have Goudge’s Dean’s Watch that I got from a second-hand bookshop. I think I might give it a shot (for all those descriptions!) and see how it goes!

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

If in The Wee Free Men Tiffany decides to be a witch, then in A Hat Full of Sky she discovers what being a witch means. A Hat Full of Sky is the perfect continuation of the story begun in The Wee Free Men.

At the start of the story Tiffany is apprenticed to Miss Level whose chief skill, it appears to Tiffany, is her ability to co-exist in two bodies simultaneously. Miss Level’s idea of witchcraft is not Tiffany’s for it seems to her that all Miss Level does is tend to the sick and help out with the odds and ends about the village. Dissatisfied with the notion that “witchcraft is mostly about doing quite ordinary things,” restlessness skims along just underneath the surface of Tiffany’s life.

A Hat Full of SkyWhat happens next cements my love for Terry Pratchett. Pratchett conceives of a foe whose vanquishing demands that Tiffany acknowledge the darkest of her thoughts and bring to light those parts of herself that she’d rather wish away. ALL of Tiffany is powerful, especially the parts that she would rather did not exist. It is only by making those parts visible that she can gain control over them, and begin to understand her enemy. It’s a clever, and deeply satisfying construct to watch unfold.

This integration of a bit of philosophy, a bit of metaphysics into the plot is one of my favorite things about A Hat Full of Sky. It is something that Pratchett apparently excels at and that puts me in awe of the breadth of his imagination and the depth of his writing skills.

There’s of course Nac Mac Feegle aplenty. There’s something utterly unsquashable about them! Just like they did in The Wee Free Men, the Nac Mac Feegle enliven A Hat Full of Sky, balancing its profundity with hearty humor and at times bringing to the humor that runs rampant in Pratchett’s stories a smidge of profundity. They’re Tiffany’s cheerleaders and staunch allies, going with her to places nobody else would dare.

Tiffany also gains other witchy friends, some her own age, some much older than she is—yes, I’m talking about Granny Weatherwax. There’s a scene between them which could be called a staring contest, only it’s not a contest, and is so much more than the two of them simply staring at each other. Their locked gazes create the impression of a ritual in which the older and the younger witch take a measure of each other. It is a ritual in which the two acknowledge each other, an acknowledgment that is oblivious of the world that’s swirling around them. It’s a scene that thrilled me to my core for within a page the reader knows that this is a relationship that is going to be one of the “soul and center” of this series, and of Tiffany’s life.

Another thread that runs through A Hat Full of Sky that resonated with me was the idea that we make sense of the things that happen to us by weaving them into narratives. Stories, Granny Weatherwax suggests, can “get things done.” They have the power to re-cast the unknown in terms that cause the unknown to become slightly more relatable, and in becoming more relatable, less mysterious. Does that mean that the “truth” loses its tarnish along the way? Possibly. But what good is the truth if nobody can understand it, or act on it is Granny Weatherwax’s (and Pratchett’s) point.

You have to tell people a story they can understand. Right now I reckon you’d have to change quite a lot of the world, and maybe bang Mr. Raddle’s stupid fat head against the wall a few times, before he’d believe that you can be sickened by drinking tiny invisible beasts [referring to microbes]. And while you’re doing that, those kids of theirs will get sicker. But goblins, now, they make sense today. A story gets things done.

The trouble in this story starts with Tiffany trying to see the hat that Granny Weatherwax had given her. A hat marks a witch, brands her as one with power and when her newfound friends tell Tiffany that she doesn’t really have one, it triggers a series of events that Tiffany couldn’t have foreseen. So it’s apropos that in the last chapter things come a full circle and Tiffany realizes that

The only hat worth wearing was the one you made for yourself, not one you bought, not one you were given. Your own hat, for your own head. Your own future, not someone else’s.

She hurled the hat up as high as she could. The wind there caught it neatly. It tumbled for a moment and then was lifted by a gust and, swooping and spinning, sailed away across the downs and vanished forever.

Then Tiffany made a hat out of the sky and sat on the old pot-bellied stove, listening to the wind around the horizons while the sun went down. . . .

The sun set, which is everyday magic, and warm night came.

The hat filled up with stars. . . .

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, And A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

Of all the children’s books that I’ve read in recent years it’s Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, And A Very Interesting Boy that takes me back to the stories of my childhood. There is an ineffable something about Birdsall’s chronicle that goes beyond the words that she uses to tell it.

The four Penderwick sisters range from age 4 to 12. Rosalind is the the eldest of the motherless brood and it’s obvious that she’s the eldest, protective as she is of her sisters, and attuned as she is to the vagaries of their moods and personalities. Batty is “the littlest,” and the shyest of the lot who never goes anywhere without her orange and black butterfly wings. The closet between her room and Rosalind’s is to her a “secret passage.” Skye, the second eldest, is orderly, organized, and also hot-tempered. Jane is the dreamer and the writer with a flair for the dramatic.

Now, if Rosalind had been the first to discover that tunnel, she would have noticed that it was too neatly trimmed and prickle-free to be there by mistake, and she would have figured that someone used it often and that someone probably wasn’t Mrs. Tifton. If Jane had been the first, she, too, would have realized that natural forces hadn’t formed that tunnel. Her explanation for it would have been nonsense—an escape route for convicts on the run or talking badgers—but at least she would have thought about it. But this was Skye. She only thought, I need a way through the hedge, and here it is. And then she plunged.

the penderwicks book 1There’s also a cottage with “a front porch, pink climbing roses, and lots of trees for shade,” a dog called Hound, a cook called Churchie who bakes gingerbread that makes everyone “forget that they had [just] eaten breakfast,” and a boy called Jeffrey who the four sisters befriend. The sisters and Jeffrey get into all kinds of scrapes. Their hijinks involve a bull, two rabbits, and also a soccer ball (unfortunately, not all at the same time). At the same time the adults in the story know their proper place and lie low till they are truly needed. In short, this is the sort of story you wish you had lived through.

While there is an overarching plot that involves everyone, each of the children also have their own mini adventure that is easily absorbed in the narrative whole. These individual storylines firm up the reader’s sense of the characters and the world that these characters occupy.

Birdsall gets children and understands their dynamics with one another. (I can’t shake off the feeling that there really is a bunch of Penderwicks out there). The sisters love one another and find strength in each other but there’s also a bit of chafing at being part of a sisterhood.

Here’s Skye and Batty, who’ve always been a little uneasy around one another, walking back home, after a particularly nasty exchange with Mrs. Tifton, Jeffrey’s mother:

“I have a question.” Batty was peering up from under the brim of her rain hat.

“What?”

“Am I odd? Is there something wrong with me, like Mrs. Tifton said?”

Skye knelt down on the wet grass and looked right into Batty’s eyes. “No, you stupid idiot, there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re perfect. Mrs. Tifton doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely positive.”

“Oh,” said Batty.

“Do you have any more questions?”

“Not right now.”

“Then let’s get you home to Daddy.” Skye took hold of Batty’s hand and held it all the way back to the cottage.

The resolution of the central conflict is so in keeping with the spirit of the tale. No precociousness or sudden burst of brilliance, just a little courage and muddling through the best you can (with some help from Mr. Penderwick). The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, And A Very Interesting Boy is kind, funny and has a good old-fashioned warmth to it that will linger on long after you’re done reading it.

A MOOPS was a Meeting Of Older Penderwick Sisters. Rosalind, Skye, and Jane called it MOOPS to keep Mr. Penderwick from knowing what they were talking about. Batty wasn’t supposed to know either, but she knew about MOPS, which was a Meeting of Penderwick Sisters, because she was always invited to them.

Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats by Jane Brocket

Question: What makes a good book even better?
Answer: Good food to go along with the story!

Question: What makes good food taste even better?
Answer: A good story to go along with it!

So what happens when you find out that there exists a book about the food of your childhood stories? If you’re me, you go slightly bonkers! You feel like an energizer bunny—with enough enthusiasm to bounce right off the walls! You fervently plead with your Inter Library Loan Services to please, please, please locate the book! You cannot decide whether you should read the whole thing in one go or should take breaks in between to test out all the delicious sounding food!

cherry cake and ginger beer jane brocketIn case you missed all those exclamation points—this book hit my sweet spots in the sweetest of ways!

Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer: A Golden Treasury of Classic Treats is a journey through the literary food worlds of Enid Blyton, Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, Noel Streatfeild, Susan Coolidge, and other favorites of children the world over. It discusses, dissects and most important of all GIVES RECIPES for the best macaroons, and jam tarts, and currant buns, and apple cakes that one has only ever read about so far! It invokes in the mind’s eye rolling countryside, and in the ear’s drums insects buzzing and the quietness of a warm summer afternoon. I could easily say for this book what Jane Brocket says for Enid Blyton’s The Circus of Adventure:

As I read, I am transported to a cosy, homely kitchen table with pots of geraniums on the window sill, a red-and white-checked tablecloth, a warm oven and a smiling hostess. I picture this beautiful still-life of food, colors, shapes and textures, and can feel myself getting hungry.

There’s food for elevenses, and food for tea-time. There’s aromatic baked delicacies and sturdy comfort food. There’s food (lots of it!) that I want to make RIGHT THIS MOMENT and food that makes me scratch my head (I give you Sugar on Snow from The Little House in Prairie books that is apparently maple syrup on fresh snow—yeah, fresh snow falling down from the skies). There’s also an ode to fruit cake:

It comes in slabs, slices, hunks, and chunks. It is found in knapsacks, bicycle baskets, wicker baskets, hampers, tuck boxes. It is served at match teas, nursery teas, afternoon teas and high teas. It is dense, moist and perfectly portable. It goes with cocoa, lemonade, ginger beer, jam tarts, ripe plums, golden apples, and potted meat sandwiches. It is, of course, good, old-fashioned, reliable fruit cake and it pops up everywhere in children’s fiction. . . . It’s the workhorse of the tea table or picnic, the solid, filling cake that never lets you down.

Chalet School Apple Cake

My Chalet School Apple Cake as laid out in Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer

This book mixes the joy of the many, many summer vacations that I spent tucked in a corner reading away with the very adult discovery of my love for food and cooking. It made me recall how much Fatty (from the Five Find Outers and Dog) loves macaroons and what a gourmand Snubby of the Roger, Diana, Barney, and Loony the dog gang is. It made me remember that I too “happily read all the German food references [in the Chalet School series] without understanding a word, and that this never once bothered me.” Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer made the stories of my childhood come alive in an all together new way.

I loved this book. However, it might not suit everyone’s palate. Brocket does nothing to balance the stereotypes encountered in the stories she talks about and if anything invokes a slight nobody-bakes-nourishing-treats-at-eleven-in-the-morning-anymore tone through the book. Which, as I said, might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

I really do believe in what Alana Chernila says in The Homemade Kitchen: “Enjoyment might just be a nutrient in itself—in fact, it might be the most important one of all.” This book was pure enjoyment for me. If you love food, or any of the authors that are covered in this book, you have to give it a try!

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Let me introduce the nine-year-old heroine, Tiffany Aching, of The Wee Free Men in her own words:

I don’t know a single spell. I don’t even have a pointy hat. My talents are an instinct for making cheese and not running around panicking when things go wrong. Oh, and I’ve got a toad.

Tiffany Aching decides that she wants to be a witch. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, she DECIDES to be a witch. Partly it’s because she doesn’t understand why witches in all the fairy tales are called wicked: “where’s the evidence?” as she puts it. And partly it’s because all the stories that she’s read only happen to “blond people with blue eyes and the redheads with green eyes,” with “no adventures for people who had brown eyes and brown hair” like Tiffany. And then there’s what happens to a woman who people thought was a witch (she was an old woman who was thrown out of her house at the peak of winter which she did not survive).

Terry Pratchett has created a remarkable little girl, one who I suspect may well become one of my all time favorite heroines.

Tiffany is a little girl who THINKS. She sees the logical inconsistency in someone who could “magic away a boy and a whole horse” being unable to “magic away the men who came for her.” She has a sense of quietness about her which is a thing of ferocity. And she engages with the world, and thinks about it in ways that most people usually don’t. And through it all she sounds and feels like a nine-year old, though a highly unusual nine-year-old.

the wee free men terry pratchettI’m in love with the way Pratchett weaves little bits of philosophy and life-thoughts through the length and breadth of his story (the whole “Second Thoughts” bit reminded me of how watching your thoughts is an actual method taught in some of the meditation practices). Here’s one conclusion that Tiffany keeps circling back to that I think is true for life in general:

That was how it worked. No magic at all. But that time it had been magic. And it didn’t stop being magic just because you found out how it was done.

Oh, and I definitely love this definition of magic that is offered in the story:

“Ah weel,” said Rob Anybody. “What’s magic, eh? Just wavin’ a stick an’ sayin’ a few wee magical words. An’ what’s so clever aboot that, eh? But lookin’ at things, really lookin’ at ‘em, and then workin’ ‘em oout, now, that’s a real skill.”

“Aye, it is,” said William the gonnagle, to Tiffany’s surprise. “Ye used yer eyes and used yer heid. That’s what a real hag does. The magicking is just there for advertisin’.”

Then there’s the way silence, and listening is brought up over and again. Oh, I love the way silence is celebrated in this story, and the way its depths are plumbed, and the way it’s shown to be a thing of such SOLIDITY and STRENGTH in this book. From one of my many favorite parts of this book (I could probably quote the whole of it):

She just loved being there. She’d watch the buzzards and listen to the noise of the silence.

It did have a noise, up there. Sounds, voices, animal noises floating up onto the downs somehow made the silence deep and complex. And Granny Aching wrapped this silence around herself and made room inside it for Tiffany. It was always too busy on the farm. There were a lot of people with a lot to do. There wasn’t enough time for silence. There wasn’t enough time for listening. But Granny Aching was silent and listened all the time.

There is such humor in this book, a lot of it of the laugh-out-loud variety, especially when the Nac Mac Feegle aka the “Wee Free Men” who are incidentally about six inches high, call humans “bigjobs,” and Tiffany their “hag,” come into the picture. There’s also a gentle subversion of what is accepted as the normal—be it in the real world or in the fictional world—that goes on in the story. And so here is a bit that had me chuckling:

“Anyway, you don’t have to have a witch ancestor to be a witch. It helps, of course, because of heredity.”

“You mean like having talents?” said Tiffany, wrinkling her brow.

“Partly, I suppose,” said Miss Tick. “But I was thinking of pointy hats, for example. If you had a godmother who can pass on her pointy hat to you, that saves a great deal of expense. They are incredibly hard to come by, especially ones strong enough to withstand falling farmhouses.”

The Wee Free Men struck a deep and resonant chord with me. Its nine-year old protagonist reminded me of the girl I used to be though Tiffany Aching is WAAAYYYYYYY MORE smarter, and MUCH more put together than I ever was at her age! Even more, I felt this sense of familiarity that is hard to put words to. It was as if the nebulous mist that I carry around in my head had suddenly coalesced into words, and shapes, and forms! In Pratchett, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit. He likes scrambling things up, and putting them together in ways that they are generally not. He plays ever so slightly with the way the “ordinary” works to stretch it into the extra-ordinary.

Glint, glisten, glitter, gleam. . .

Tiffany thought a lot about words, in the long hours of churning butter. “Onomatopoeic,” she’d discovered in the dictionary, meant words that sounded like the noise of the thing they were describing, like cuckoo. But she thought there should be a word meaning a word that sounds like the noise a thing would make if that thing made a noise even though, actually, it doesn’t, but would if it did.

Glint, for example. If light made a noise as it reflected off a distant window, it’d go glint! And the light of tinsel, all those little glints chiming together, would make a noise like glitterglitter. Gleam was a clean, smooth noise from a surface that intended to shine all day. And glisten was the soft, almost greasy sound of something rich and oily.

I am so, so glad that Ana’s review made me seek these books out.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn (A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle) by Dana Simpson

I’m not sure how to talk sensibly or intelligently about Phoebe and Her Unicorn (A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle). How about if I say that I want to put it in the hands of all the little girls and the little boys that I know?

The introduction to Phoebe and Her Unicorn compares it to Calvin and Hobbes and I say Yes! to that. BUT Dana Simpson’s comic is also very much its own animal. (HAHAHA. Its own animal—get it?) Phoebe finds Marigold Heavenly Nostrils while skipping a stone in a pond. When granted a wish by Marigold, she wishes for Marigold to be her best friend.

Marigold is a superior sort of being (some people may call her vain but that’s just being uncouth). She’s magnificent at squashing any and all of Phoebe’s schemes that venture into pretentiousness and the I’m-getting-too-big-for-my-britches territory.

marigold roasting phoebe phoebe and her unicorn

Phoebe is no less of a match for this “heavenly” creature, quick and sure-footed as she is at taking Marigold down a peg or two.

phoebe taking marigold a peg down phoebe and her unicorn

Human and Unicorn have the usual adventures—from pillow fighting to fighting crime as Claustrophoebea, the Super Hero and Pointyhead, the Super Villain—and through it all they continue to roast each other in the best of manners in much the same fashion as all other budding best friends’ duos have through history!

roast phoebe and her unicorn

Exuberance is the word I want to use for this book. It truly does sparkle (even though its Unicorn doesn’t). That’s partly due to the artwork especially Phoebe whose face expresses each emotion with such wholeheartedness and facility that the character just leaps off the page and jumps straight into your heart.

And partly it’s because of Phoebe’s delightful weirdness, and Marigold’s unshakeable conviction in her own splendor. The duo are the perfect foil for each other and together strike the right balance.

perfect foil phoebe and her unicorn

I just love how the humor in this book is all sorts of funny without resorting to any kind of meanness.

umm phoebe and her unicorn

My very first comic book/graphic novel as an adult and it couldn’t have been more perfect!

human-unicorn