Authors: Sue Bentley
Conrad—the black and white nibbler
GROSSET & DUNLAP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
For more information about the Penguin Group visit penguin.com
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.
Purchase only authorized editions.
Text copyright © 2007 Sue Bentley. Illustrations copyright © 2007 Angela Swan.
Cover illustration copyright © 2007 Andrew Farley. First printed in Great Britain in 2007 by Penguin Books Ltd. First published in the United States in 2013 by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.
Lifting his head, the young white lion sniffed the hot breeze rustling through the thornbushes. It felt good to be home again. Maybe this time he would be able to stay.
Suddenly a terrifying roar split the air and an enormous adult lion appeared above him on a rocky ridge.
“Ebony!” Flame gasped, as he looked
up at the terrifying sight of his uncle.
He felt sparks igniting in his fur and there was a bright white flash. Where the majestic young white lion had been, there was now a tiny, fluffy calico kitten. Flame edged slowly back into the bushes, hoping that his white fur with ginger and black markings couldn’t be seen.
Ebony’s fierce eyes looked down, seeming to bore into Flame’s tiny kitten body. Flame crouched low, trembling with anger and fear. There was a rustling sound behind him, and an old gray lion pushed through the bushes.
“Prince Flame. It is good to see you again. But you have returned at a dangerous time,” Cirrus rumbled.
Flame blinked up at his old friend with relief. “I am glad to see you too,
Cirrus. I had hoped that my uncle would have given up looking for me.”
“That will never happen,” Cirrus told him sadly. “Ebony is determined to find and kill you, so that he can keep the throne he stole from you. You must go back to the other world and hide. Use this disguise well and stay safe.”
“I am tired of hiding!” Flame mewed, his emerald eyes flashing. “I will face my uncle!”
Cirrus showed his worn teeth in a proud smile. “Bravely said, but first, you must grow strong and wise. Go…”
Suddenly another fierce roar rang out. Ebony charged down the rocks and came thundering toward the thorn bushes where Flame and Cirrus were hiding. The ground shook beneath his mighty paws.
“He’s seen us! Go now, Flame!” Cirrus urged. “Save yourself!”
The tiny kitten whined as he felt the power building inside him. His fluffy calico fur glittered with sparks, and there was another bright flash. Flame felt himself falling. Falling…
Zoe Swann frowned as she looked up at her nana. “Do I have to?” she grumbled.
Joy Swann smiled, the sunlight glinting on her bright red hair. “Don’t look so sad, sweetie. Anyone would think I’d asked you to fly to the moon, instead of collect a few eggs!”
Zoe looped the egg basket over
her arm. “Oh, all right,” she said, making a face. “I guess I should do something, now that Mom’s dumped me here!”
Her nana chuckled. “You know that your mom will write the book more quickly without interruptions. And then she can come down and stay for a few days, too.”
“So I’m just an ‘interruption’? Thanks a lot!” Zoe grumbled.
Joy ruffled her granddaughter’s short blond hair. “Don’t be so dramatic, Zoe!”
“Well, it’s not my fault if Mom’s silly old book won’t behave itself, is it? I promised to creep around the house like a mouse in slippers, but she wouldn’t listen,” Zoe said bitterly. Her
mom wrote children’s books about a family who lived on a barge. They were really good but, to Zoe’s annoyance, her mom couldn’t have any distractions when writing them—including Zoe.
“It’s not for long,” her nana said, her smile wavering. “You know I love having you stay over, and I thought you liked staying with me.”
“I do.” Zoe felt an uncomfortable twinge of guilt. Her nana was great. She was funny and generous and not strict at all. But Zoe had planned to help out at the local stables over her vacation. After each morning mucking out, Lizzie, the stables’ owner, let Zoe ride one of the ponies. Now she was going to miss out on all the riding opportunities.
“Off you go then,” her nana said from the back doorstep. “I’m going inside to do some baking. Oh, by the way. I just got a new bunch of bantams. Watch out for Cocky. He can be a bit bad-tempered.”