From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3–This rollicking, rhyming, rags-to-riches story begins when Dad loses the keys to his beat-up car. As the young female narrator points out, No car, no work! No work, no pay! and so the day begins quite grimly for the family that is growing poorer day by day. But then the narrator's two-year-old sister suggests that her father should do what she does when she loses something: search down the back of the chair. And then the fun really begins. Dad's first reach into the easy chair's recesses yields a bit of hairy string, and then the first sign of reversed fortunes–a diamond ring. From there the seemingly magical armchair produces a seven-inch-long spider, a clown, a string of pearls, two tea-sipping elephants, a pirate with a treasure map,/a dragon trying to take a nap–, and other delights. But when Dad pulls out the long lost will of Uncle Bill and his money hoard, the family's financial woes are over. Dunbar's flower-patterned chair is wonderfully ordinary, and its plainness is in perfect contrast to the zany creatures and objects that spring forth from it. The watercolor and cut-paper illustrations are expressively detailed and whimsical, a superb match for the buoyant and breezy verse as it, too, flies this way and that. A delightfully optimistic, entertaining crowd-pleaser.–Carol L. MacKay, Forestburg School Library, Alberta, Canada
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PreS-Gr. 2. Like Shel Silverstein's poetry, Mahy's exuberant rhyme bounces with nonsensical humor and begs for guitar accompaniment. On a bleak day, when money is low and the car keys are lost, a young girl and her siblings console their depressed dad by sharing their own technique for cheering up and finding missing items: see what's under the cushions. Sure enough, a magical storehouse of wonderments emerges from an armchair, and the girl describes the mayhem in infectious rhymes: "Some hairy string and a diamond ring . . . pineapple peel and a conger eel." Children may need help with some of the vocabulary (drake and docket, for example), but the wild assortment of objects, which include a pirate and a "lion with curls," will easily delight, as will the cacophonous, sunny, paint-and-paper collages of tea-drinking creatures, the comically stressed-out dad, and the cheerful kids. Expect lots of chanting along to the marching refrain ("Down the back of the chair") and phrases such as "a skink, a skunk, a skate, a ski." Gillian Engberg
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