Dad: Do you remember a little while ago when a fellow from Hungary wanted us to review a Hungarian book? We found a Hungarian folktale to review...
Isaac (age 10): Does someone else want us to do one now?
Dad: This time someone from New Zealand... actually more than one person from New Zealand, on more than one occasion has asked us to review a book, any book, by Margaret Mahy. She's from New Zealand, and I gather they all love her over there.
Lily (age 6): It's time to let them have their wish.
Dad: Yep. And people love her here in America too. So this is a book by Margaret Mahy. And it's illustrated by Polly Dunbar.
Gracie (age 9): Dunbar. That's such a cool name.
Lily: (singing) Dunbar! Dun, dun, dun, dunbar!
Gracie: I want to be called "Dunbar"!
Lily: (still singing) Dunbar, Dunbar, Duuuunbar...
Dad: Polly Dunbar is not from New Zealand. She's from England.
Dad: The book is called "Down the Back of the Chair."
Lily: Yes. "Down the Back of the Chair." That is what it is called.
Dad: I looked over lots of Margaret Mahy books, and this was my favorite.
Gracie: Me too.
Lily: (singing again) Down the back of the chaaaaairrrrrrr.
Dad: So, tell us what the book is about...
Gracie: "Down the Back of the Chair" is about a family that is starting to get poor. Just - like - us.
Lily: But they were poor because they lost their keys. A bird took them.
Dad: And with no keys, then there's no car... no work... no money.
Gracie: Then the little two-year-old tells them to reach down the back of the chair. So they do, and out pops crazy things.
Isaac: They keep finding more and more stuff down the back of the chair. Lots of stuff down the chair. Like some fuzzy string and a spider and a purple eel.
Lily: That thing that looks like a snake -- that's an eel.
Isaac: Eels. That's weird.
Gracie: And there is a ring, a lion, a dragon, a clown. And there are elephants with teapots.
Isaac: You could get zillions and millions of dollars just by showing off the dragon.
Gracie: And a bandicoot. What's a bandicoot? He's cute.
Isaac: The bandicoot is awesomeness.
Gracie: And there was a twin! The baby's twin was down the chair!
Isaac: The twinless twin became a twinfull twin. And the twinfull twins ate an icecream cake.
Gracie: He's happy because he has his long lost twin.
Lily: The babies get everything.
Gracie: Like, they get the icecream sundae.
Lily: They even got the diamond ring.
Isaac: We gotta get a chair like that.
Lily: I wish I ate that sundae with the babies.
Gracie: Then they find Uncle Bill's will. A will is a thingie that says where someone's money goes.
Isaac: Where there's a will, there's a way.
Gracie: They also find money. Then they are all so rich -- so, so rich.
Isaac: And their house exploded.
Gracie: They got so much stuff, their house exploded! And when they said, "Who needs car keys? Now we could just call a taxi" --then a taxi pops out of the chair!
Isaac: I want that chair.
Gracie: It's possible to live down there. The baby did it.
Dad: What do you think the baby and the dragon and the lion were doing down there all day?
Gracie: Having tea with the elephants.
Isaac: That was a very cramped chair.
Lily: It was a magical chair.
Gracie: I think everyone fit because they magically shrunk tiny as ants.
Isaac: I think the animals never ate all those years, so they got skinnier and skinnier until they were as skinny as paper.
Dad: So if the chair was magical, does that mean it wouldn't work with our chair?
Lily: Nope. We would have to look for that chair.
Dad: What things do you find in our cushions?
Isaac: I found two quarters and a penny.
Gracie: Putting all the money together that I've found in the back of our chair, I probably found two dollars and three cents. In change.
Dad: We need to find a better chair.
Gracie: We need to find the will of Daddy Warbucks.
Isaac: Why didn't they just pull the whole seat cushion off?
Dad: You mean instead of reaching behind it over and over?
Isaac: That would be so much easier.
Dad: Alright everyone... what is this called: "...challenging chair, champion chair, cheerful chair..."
Dad: Chiming? Is that when you're rhyming with a "ch"?
Gracie: It's called alliteration.
Dad: We also saw some internal rhymes. Okay, you tell me if this is internal rhyming or alliteration...
Isaac: Oh great.
Dad: "A skink, a skunk, a skate, a ski."
Dad: Right. How about, "There's pleasure and treasure."
Dad: But what about, "There's pleasure, treasure, toys, and trash."
Lily: Alliteration and rhyming.
Dad: What about the pictures in this book?
Isaac: The spider has a lot of boots.
Gracie: The pictures are cute.
Isaac: The pictures look like cut paper, but they are actually drawings.
Dad: I think the illustrator drew all the parts separately, cut them out, and then glued them all down into one picture.
Gracie: They're cool.
Dad: So what did you think of Margaret Mahy?
Gracie: Margaret Mahy's marvelous.
Dad: Ahhh, there's some alliteration.
Dad: How about Polly Dunbar?
Gracie: Polly's perfect.
Dad: How about Dunbar?
Gracie: Dunbar... Dunbar... Dunbar is an awesome name!
Lily: Delightful Dunbar.
Gracie: That could be the name of a candybar.