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Down the Back of the Chair

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  194 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
When Dad loses his car keys, little Mary suggests they might be down the back of the chair. Join in the fun as Dad begins the search, finding everything from a hairy string to a diamond ring—and much, much more! Could the solution to all the family’s problems be down the back of the chair?

A lively rhyming text and quirky art come together in this visual explosion of fun an
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published June 12th 2006 by Clarion Books
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Apr 02, 2012 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, picture
Odd little verse story about an overwhelmed father who finds a succession of increasingly bizarre items "down the back of the chair" as he searches for his car keys. Although quite fanciful, the story is surprisingly realistic in aspects -- the grubbiness of the under-parented toddlers, for instance, and the anxiety of the older girl that her father will be fired and have no money if he doesn't find the keys in time. I don't know whether this is just Mahy, who never shies away from social diffic ...more
Nov 16, 2008 Kathryn rated it liked it
Not sure why I wasn't more "into" this story. It's a neat little idea, but I guess I just found the things in back of the chair too much a collection of extraordinary misc. (really, elephants having a tea party!?) but perhaps that is the charm of the tale for young readers. (Also, I thought the dad looked a bit, um, scary; channeling a bit of the look from Munch's "The Scream"--but maybe that is just me!)
Nov 02, 2016 Cheryl rated it liked it
"I've found my dreams," our father beams, "down the back of the chair."
Yes, ok, after a lot of not nice stuff.
I will never ever again even think about getting stuffed furniture. :shudder:
Jul 07, 2011 Alsie rated it it was amazing
I read this book quite a lot through the years, I always loved Mahy's quirky style and found the rhyming fun to read .It was cleverly written, with all the funny and crazy stuff found at the back of the chair. The unique and colorful pictures also added a lot to the book, making it very enjoyable.
Nov 29, 2008 Dolly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Charming story about a family who find the solution to all their troubles (and a lot of other things, too!) "Down the Back of the Chair." Strange and quirky, but a great poem that flows easily and is fun to read. Our girls have borrowed this a few times from the library.
Feb 09, 2017 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
Down the Back of the Chair - Margaret Mahy,Polly Dunbar    Super silly picture book wherein the father keeps pulling increasingly less probably items from under the seat cushion of a comfy chair. The archetypal comfy chair. The one I've become obsessed with. Now in addition to passing time looking at gorgeous home libraries on Pinterest, I've taken to looking for chairs closest to this ideal. I haven't found one yet. But now I have another ridiculously pointless quest to amuse my idle moments.Li ...more
Vicki Kier
Jun 06, 2011 Vicki Kier rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-child
One of Mahy's finest, Down the Back of the Chair humorously recounts the fortunes found by one economically-challenged family "down the back of the chair"--a refrain repeated throughout the rhyming text. Loads of new vocabulary and clever phrases like "rack and ruin" are sure to please listeners, who will also appreciate the rhythm and sounds of Mahy's interesting alliterations and non-standard, refreshing rhymes when read aloud. Dunbar's quirky drawings exude an energy and silliness, perfectly ...more
Beth Koorey
Jul 23, 2012 Beth Koorey rated it it was amazing
Down the back of the chair is a pearler to read aloud, or giggle with by myself. "The chair, the chair, the challenging chair, the champion chair, the cheerful chair, charming chair, the children's chair, the chopped and chipped, but chosen chair."

Margaret Mahy has died today, Monday 23 July, after being diagnosed with cancer in April this year. And always working with dynamos like the gorgeous illustrator Polly Dunbar...

I hope RNZ will repeat an interview Mahy's interview on Kim Hill's progra
Aug 13, 2009 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
more like 3.5 stars...
5/5 illustrations
3/5 story

I think the premise of the book is a little weird, and potentially scary for children (the family is facing financial ruin because the dad can't find his car keys... eeek, I lose my keys every day!) but the things that come out of the chair when he is looking for spare change are funny and clever, so the story definitely picks up. And goodness, I love Polly Dunbar. Her illustrations are a little darker in this in some ways, but so original and rich
Aug 27, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books-jp
This hoot and a half of a picture book makes me sadder still that Margaret Mahy no longer graces our world, makes me long to be a New Zealander where bandicoots and skinks and conger eels are probably not alien to children as they might be here in NY (and they have the sea the sea the sea everywhere and libraries plum full of her even her most obscure books I would hope), and mostly makes me laugh with her take no prisoners gleeful rhyming.
Raising a (pretend, the best kind) glass to you, Margar
Mar 29, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
A read-aloud story about a father who's lost his car keys. A frantic search leads a child to suggest the back of the chair - from whence all wonderful and amazing lost items are found. A fun rhyming text blends with fine drawings in a funny fantasy of a simple chair's riches.

Teaching Ideas/author website:

Have students write their own story for what is down the back of the chair.
Dec 27, 2011 Tam rated it it was ok
This is not the "type" of book that my 4-year-old likes and he was constantly asking me what words meant.

Excerpt from the book:
"Nothing but dockets in his pockets,
raging with despair, Dad acts appalled!
Though nearly bald, he tries to tear his hair.
But Mary, who is barely two,
says, 'Dad should do what I would do!
I lose a lot, but I find a few--
down the back of the chair."
I loved this book! I thought that it was so cute and clever! This would be a great book to read in the classroom just for fun. I think that all of the things that get pulled out of the chair are cute, funny, and clever! I love that it turned out that the chair held the answer to their problems the entire time. I really enjoyed this book and the way it was written.
Amber the Human
Jun 13, 2014 Amber the Human rated it liked it
Somewhere along the way, Mahy was recommended to me, and although I've never found any of her books to be totally enthralling, they're good and I can see why children like them. This book goes into detail about all the preposterous things that one could find while searching the cracks of a chair - a fun enough concept.
Nov 08, 2007 Kristin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers and moms
Elaina and I read this book today and it was a great rhyming book...beyond your typical "fat, cat" stuff, and anyone who's ever cleaned out couch cushions and found amazing stuff will appreciate it (that's got to include all of us?).
Jun 10, 2009 Megan rated it really liked it
The first time I read this I wasn't that impressed with it (some lines seemed a little forced), but the more I read it the more I like it. The illustrations by Polly Dunbar are of course so creative and I love studying them. This really is a cute book.
Michael Earp
Dec 30, 2011 Michael Earp rated it it was amazing
Aug 15, 2013 Shelli rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A tale of a disorganized family that is at the end of their emotional and financial rope. They discover many of the answers to their problems "Down the Back of the Chair." A quirky read-aloud to share small children that may lead them to investigate what may be lurking under the sofa cushions.
Talks about how the father and two children find several things "down the back of the chair." I enjoyed how the story was written and I enjoyed the illustrations. This book was written by a New Zealand author.
Aug 26, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it
Fun, ridiculously exaggerated premise; makes for an animated read-a-loud. The father illustrations are zombieish, which is off-putting and breaks from the light-heartedness of the story, but clever over-all.
Aug 31, 2007 Annie rated it it was amazing
A rollicking rhyming picture book, absolutely perfect to read aloud (audience optional). Best version - Margaret herself, although I did her Margaret and her grandson Harry recite it at the Gala Dinner commemorating Margaret's 70th birthday[]!
Apr 25, 2013 Candace rated it it was amazing
I have read this four times since renting it. Filled with imagination. Made the children I read it to look down the back of their couches. HA!
Rachel Ayers
Aug 22, 2012 Rachel Ayers rated it really liked it
A family manages to solve their financial difficulties by looking for loose change (and other things) behind the cushion of the chair.
Emily Metroka
Sooo funny and silly and imaginative. love it. would be great to transition this into a flannel board.
Jul 20, 2012 Rei rated it it was amazing
Another great story from Mahy. Lots of rhyme once again which I think makes it exciting and fun to read. You will be amazed by what you can find down the back of a chair. The kids will enjoy it.
Elizabeth Meadows
Jun 28, 2013 Elizabeth Meadows rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children
What fun! Delightful story for toddlers told in poetry with numerous likely and unlikely things found tucked way down in the slip cover of a chair.
Aug 02, 2010 Eva rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Parents
Recommended to Eva by: A friend
Shelves: childrens
I love this book. Well actually, my kids love this book.

It's fun, gets the imagination working, and is wonderfully illustrated. If only I had a chair like this one!

Sep 08, 2008 Natalie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-alouds
I always like Pollly Dunbar's work, I'm especially fond of the lion with curly hair in this one :)

Excellent rhymes, superb illustrations, fantastic refrain.
Oct 17, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: edrd-314
The stressful times in the beginning can be relatable to some children. The rhyming and excitement of the later pages would be fun to read as a child I think.
Jul 07, 2012 Polly rated it really liked it
Quirky and strange, but in a good way. Probably not something I'll ever use professionally, but if I had kids of my own, I'd read it to them like a shot!
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Margaret Mahy was a well-known New Zealand author of children's and young adult books. While the plots of many of her books have strong supernatural elements, her writing concentrates on the themes of human relationships and growing up.

Her books The Haunting and The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance both received the Carnegie Medal of the British Library Association. There have 100 children's boo
More about Margaret Mahy...

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