When breakfast begins with Aunt Zelda flying into the kitchen with a kite, the young narrator and her brother, Charlie, know it's no ordinary day. The kite is an invitation for the kids to join the dancer Umbara for tea. Aunt Zelda sends them off with a request to bring back some Yellowflower tea for her and to promise ""not to let anything surprise you."" But her advice is tough to follow. After crossing the Sea of a Thousand Green Fishes with Captain Hirsoot, the kids go on a cart ride where they encounter a tiger, zip down a mountain side on a sled, and finally tumble into the residence of Umbara--a dragon. The well-engineered pop-up mechanisms add to all the surprises: The boat fights the waves, the tiger leaps over bushes, and Umbara rears up. The story maintains a gentle air, captured by the whimsical drawings that lean more towards fantasy than jack-in-the-box bushwhacks.