In this book, Cyril, Anthea, Robert, Jane and the Lamb, who first appeared in Five Children and It, continue their trilogy of adventures. After an accidental fire, a new carpet is placed in the play room to replace the one that was destroyed. While playing, the children find an egg in the carpet. The egg hatches into a talking phoenix, that explains that the carpet is magical, and will grant the children three wishes per day. It's startling enough to have a Phoenix hatch in your house, but even more startling when it reveals you have a magic carpet on the floor. Conceited it may be, but the Phoenix is also good-hearted, and obligingly accompanies the children on their adventures through time and space — which, magic being what it is, rarely turn out as they were meant.