The adventure reaches its climax as Tiger and Luna enter a famous painting by Diego Rivera. Only this time, they're not alone. The kids are accompanied by Viola, the owner of the fantastic frame and mother of the boy who went missing inside it over fifty years ago. As the trio traverses the world of The Flower Vendor (Girl with Lilies), can they end Viola's search once and for all?
Praise for Danger! Tiger Crossing:
"Ten-year-old Tiger Brooks and his neighbor, Luna Lopez, get up-close and personal with Henri Rousseau's 'Tiger in a Tropical Storm' in this action-driven first book in the Fantastic Frame series." -Publishers Weekly
"Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy." -Kirkus
About the Author
Emily Kimbell fell into illustration by accident and stayed there because it was a good excuse for not going to parties. She also works as a character and background artist for animation and in her spare time she likes to hang around places where there are trees.
Read an Excerpt
Hi there. I believe we’ve met before.
I’m Tiger Brooks, the guy who travels with his friend Luna Lopez through a magical picture frame into great works of art. I suppose you know that our time travels only happen during the hour of power. At four o’clock, we get sucked into a painting, and if we’re not back where we started at exactly five o’clock, we’re stuck in the world of art forever.
That’s right, I said forever, as in F-O-R-E-V-E-R. There’s no coming back. It’s not like you can call a friend and say, “I’m ready to come home now.” The one thing I’ve learned about the world of art is that the cell phone reception there seriously stinks.
Our magical picture frame is located in our neighbor Viola Dots’s house. It pulled her son, David, right out of her living room fifty years ago, and she’s been searching for him in paintings ever since. Luna and I have been trying to help her find him. Don’t ask me how this crazy frame got to be so magical. I don’t have a clue. But I can tell you that traveling through it is a fantastic adventure.
Let me warn you, the adventure I’m going to tell you about is different from the ones before. It has, as my grandma always says, a completely new wrinkle. It’s funny that my grandma loves that expression, because the last thing she needs is a new wrinkle. She already has about a million of them. She even has some on her knees, but don’t tell her I told you.
I know you’re not reading this to learn about knee wrinkles. You want to know why this particular adventure is so different, right? Well, here’s a clue: The story is called the Journey to Forever. As in F-O-R-E-V-E-R.
So flip the page, friends, and dig in. As for me, I’ll be waiting for you at the end.
Everything in the world was just right. It was Sunday afternoon, a soft breeze was coming through the open window, and I was at my favorite place in the world.
My invention desk.
It’s just a regular desk, but it’s where I work my magic. My desk is packed with all my tools, like my voltage meter and my ten-piece screwdriver kit. And I rigged up a set of containers to store all my tiny screws, washers and nuts, copper wires, microchips, and, of course, more tiny screws.
There’s no place I’d rather be than sitting at my invention desk, squinting at a circuit board. It was especially great that Sunday because my chatterbox of a little sister, Maggie, was outside trying to earn some money at her lemonade stand.
I was all set to begin work on my latest invention, something I call the Pocket Buddy. It’s a super-duper all-in-one tool featuring a pair of scissors, a spork, a mini magnifying glass, a little pen, and a breath-mint dispenser. Suddenly, my mom burst through the door without knocking. I hadn’t even heard her footsteps coming down the hall. She’d probably taken off her shoes so she could surprise me. Moms are sneaky that way.
“Tiger, Maggie needs your help,” she said.
“Didn’t you read the sign on my door?” I shot back. “No parents without prior appointment.”
“It’s that Cooper Starr kid,” my mom said. “Actually, it’s his little brother.”
“You mean Pooch?”
“That sounds like a dog’s name.”
“It’s what everyone calls Andrew Starr,” I explained. “That kid’s as bad as his big brother. On Friday at school, I saw him put someone’s lunch box in the trash can. That’s his idea of fun.”
“Well, it looks like Cooper and Pooch are trying to run Maggie out of business,” my mom said. “She needs your help.”
“Why can’t you help her?”
“Tiger, you know it’s embarrassing to have your mom stick up for you. It’s much cooler when your older brother does. So I’d like you to go outside and see what you can do.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. First, my mom burst into my room and interrupted my precious invention time. Now she was ordering me to help my little sister fight a lemonade-stand war against the Starr brothers, the biggest jerks this side of Mars.
“I don’t know the first thing about lemonade stands,” I said, “or even how to make lemonade. It’s made from grapefruit, correct?”
“Very clever, Einstein,” Mom said. “But it won’t work.”
“Mom, do you think Thomas Edison’s mother asked him to help his little sister when he was right in the middle of inventing the lightbulb?”
“First of all, you’re not inventing the lightbulb. And second, Maggie needs help now. She wants to raise ten dollars by five o’clock so she can go to the mall with her friend Hazel’s family to buy a Shop-Cool doll.”
I sighed loud and long, and I let it hang in the air for a while. Oh sure, I could think of more comebacks, throw a tantrum, come down with a case of yellow fever . . . but in the end, it wouldn’t matter. My mom would win.
“Knock knock” came a friendly voice from the hallway.
Luna, my upstairs neighbor, poked her head into my room.
“I heard your conversation from the porch,” she said. “We’d love to help Maggie, Mrs. Brooks. My grandma always says nothing is more important than family.”
“What about minding your own business?” I said. “Doesn’t your grandma believe in that?”
“No,” Luna said with a laugh. “Now, what are you waiting for, Tiger? We have lemonade to sell.”
I sighed again. Luna is my best friend, but she might be a little too nice for this world.
“Well, Tiger?” my mom said, her hands on her hips.
“Well, Tiger?” Luna repeated, her hands on her hips, too.
That was too many hands on hips for me. I buckled under the pressure. I put away my tiny screws and headed outside.
Seemed like the world was just going to have to wait one more day for the Pocket Buddy.
Luna and I stepped out of our duplex into a perfect Los Angeles day. Well, it had been perfect before everyone decided I had to go into the lemonade-selling, sister-saving business.
I checked the time on my Batman watch. After I’d left the first one behind on one of my fantastic frame journeys, my uncle Cole gave me the one off his own wrist. What a great uncle. I hope you have your own version of Uncle Cole.
According to Batman, it was 2:24 p.m.
“Let’s make this quick,” I said to Luna. “Maybe I can still work on my invention before the hour of power.”
“That’s not until four o’clock,” Luna said.
“Viola said she wanted us to be there early today,” I reminded her.
“Oh, right. She told us that this week’s art adventure is really important.”
“I wonder what that’s supposed to mean,” I said as we headed down the driveway to the sidewalk.
I was ready to be annoyed with Maggie, but that changed when I saw her sad little lemonade stand. She was just sitting by the table, with a pitcher of gray-looking lemonade and a stack of paper cups in front of her. There was also a fishbowl she was using to hold the money. Only there was no money in it. I really felt bad for her when I saw her wiping tears from her eyes.
“Dunnn-da-da-daaaaa,” Luna sang. “We have come to save the day!”
“Oh,” Maggie said, pretending as if she hadn’t been crying. “Do you want to buy a cup of lemonade?”
“Not really,” I said, swishing around the icky-looking lemonade with a spoon.
She’d clearly made the stuff herself. I don’t know how much experience you’ve had with five-year-olds, but you don’t want to taste any drink they’ve made with their own grubby hands. Their drinks usually contain a secret ingredient, and that secret ingredient is never something you should swallow, such as tiny bits of shredded paper or a spoonful of mud.
“We’re here to help you get some customers for your lemonade stand,” Luna said, “so you can buy the toy you want.”
“Really?” Maggie’s eyes lit up. “Shop-Cool dolls are my favorite.”
“First things first,” Luna said to Maggie. “Let’s test your lemonade.”
She poured herself a cup of lemonade and brought it to her lips.
“Wait, don’t!” I yelled, but it was too late.
The stuff was already in Luna’s mouth. I watched as she swallowed, grabbed her neck, and tried not to throw up. Her eyes watered, and her entire mouth turned into a pucker.
“It’s interesting,” she said at last. “Something tells me you made it yourself?”
“Mommy squeezed the lemons, and I added the secret ingredients,” Maggie confessed.
“I see,” Luna said. She dipped her finger into the cup and pulled out some crumpled-up dead leaves.
“I didn’t put those leaves in it,” Maggie said. “It was that mean boy, Pooch. And then he set up his stand right on our street.”
I looked down the block and saw the competition. There were quite a few people at Pooch’s stand. He had a great sign and bags of ice, and I could see cartons of ready-made lemonade on his table. It was that sugar drink called Marty’s Lem-O that’s not really even lemonade. Maggie and I aren’t allowed to drink it because Mom says it would make our teeth fall out.
Helping Pooch was his horrible big brother, Cooper Starr. He calls himself Super Cooper, but Luna and I think his nickname should be World’s Number One Creep. He’s mean, and that’s on a good day.
“We’ll have to make some new lemonade,” Luna said. “And no offense, Maggie, but maybe we should try a different recipe. Tiger, why don’t you go grab lemons from the tree in the backyard? I’ll get some sugar and supplies from my house.”
The low-hanging lemons had already been picked, so I had to use a fruit picker to get to the lemons on the top branches.
I picked at least fifteen lemons and took them to our porch. Then I had to squeeze them. That was hard. You don’t actually squeeze very much juice from each lemon, and when you finally get some, you have to get a strainer to fish out all the seeds.
Then it hit me. I had invented a solution for this lemon-squeezing problem.
The Pocket Buddy! I had two perfectly good Pocket Buddy prototypes on my desk. (A prototype is what we inventor types call the early model of something we make.) I ran to my room and grabbed them both, then met Luna back on the porch. She had brought water, sugar, and a plastic pitcher from her kitchen.
“What’s this?” she asked when I handed her one of the prototypes.
“The newest and best time-saving device ever invented,” I bragged.
I showed her how to use the scissors to cut the lemons into wedges, and the sporks to remove the seeds that were floating in the juice. I had even installed a tiny FM radio on my newest prototype. I pulled out the antenna, and we listened to a couple of tunes while we finished the lemonade.
When the pitcher was full, we hurried over to Maggie’s stand.
“Good news, Mags,” I said, putting the pitcher on the table. “Now we have something great that you can sell.”
“All we have to do is advertise our product,” Luna said.
She ran into her house and came back with a piece of poster board and colorful markers. Luna collects art supplies the way I collect screws, bolts, and circuit boards.
“We’re going to make you a big sign,” Luna told Maggie. “First, we need a catchy name for your stand.”
“How about Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy?” I suggested.
Luna burst out laughing.
“But I want my name on the sign,” Maggie said.
“Okay, how about Lil’ Maggie’s Handmade Lemonade?” Luna said.
“I’m not little,” Maggie protested. “I’m big.”
Luna made a colorful sign that said big maggie’s handmade lemonade and stood it up on the table.
At 3:41 p.m., according to my Batman watch, we officially reopened for business.
Our first customer was metal-mouthed Cooper Starr, the king of jerkdom.
“I’ll take one cup of snot juice, if you please,” he said.
He laughed like he had just told the funniest joke in the whole world. He waited while Maggie poured a cup. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head when he slapped a ten-dollar bill down on the table. “Can you make change for a tenner?”
Of course we couldn’t, but Maggie tried to figure it out, anyway, counting to ten on her fingers.
“Only babies count on their fingers,” he snorted.
“Does it make you feel good to tease a five-year-old?” Luna asked.
“You bet it does,” he answered. “This pipsqueak needs to close up shop right now. My brother, Pooch, runs the lemonade business on this street.”
Cooper put the ten-dollar bill back into his pocket, grabbed a handful of grass from the lawn, and was just about to drop it into our lemonade. He stopped when we heard a horn honking and saw a big white van rumbling down the street toward us. On its side, in large red letters, it said los angeles hospital.
“Cooper, your ride to the hospital for mutant research is here,” I said.
The medical van pulled up in front of Viola Dots’s house. The back doors swung open, and two emergency medical team members got out in a hurry.
“Watch out, kids,” they hollered as they lifted a wheelchair from the van. “We got a sick lady coming through.”
As they lowered the wheelchair onto the ground, I saw an old woman sitting in it. I gasped. It was none other than Viola Dots herself.