couldn't wait for this week's BetterWorld Kids
Club meeting. He kept thinking about how
thrilled the other kids would be when
they heard about the amazing thing he'd
Finally the day arrived, but just a couple
of minutes before the meeting, his father
called upstairs for him to take his dog
Falafel out for a walk. Ahmed had been
so excited that he'd completely forgotten
about her all day. Falafel couldn't wait
a minute longer!
Ahmed tried to hurry Falafel along but
he was sure that she was taking her time
visiting every tree on the block just
to punish him for making her wait so long.
Finally she decided to stop torturing
him, finished her business and raced him
Ahmed dashed up the stairs and quickly
grabbed his laptop. He typed in the BetterWorld Kids
Club web address, pressed enter, and instantly
found himself transported INTO cyberspace.
you are, Ahmed" everyone exclaimed as
he materialized in the multicolored cyber-void.
guys, sorry I'm late," Ahmed gasped, out
of breath. He wanted to tell everyone
right then and there about his wonderful
discovery, but he was the Club Secretary
and he knew that everyone was waiting
for him to officially log the meeting
in on his laptop.
They called the meeting to order and went
around the circle sharing about things
that had happened to each of them since
their last meeting.
Everyone had something to tell, and some
of the stories were pretty exciting. But
Ahmed didn't really hear any of them.
He was too excited about his news and
he thought he would explode before it
was his turn. Finally, all eyes were on
I found the most amazing thing on the
Internet," he burst out.
Sunanda and a few of the other kids chuckled.
"You always do, Ahmed," Sunanda said, laughing.
It's true. All the kids knew that Ahmed
spent quite a bit of time googling 'peace'
for interesting new things that are happening
around the world.
really, guys. This is THE most AMAZING
thing. I found this ancient document about
a legendary place called 'Peacetopia.'"
Quite a few eyebrows raised. "Peacetopia
… like Utopia …?" Erin asked.
Ahmed exclaimed. "They found this incredibly
old document all about this legendary
place where people live in peace with
each other, with nature and with all living
good, Ahmed," Jamal agreed. "When did
this place exist?"
according to the commentary I read at
the end of the posting about this document,
no one knows if it was in the far distant
past, or if it is someplace that's coming
in the future …"
Johnny and José said at the same time.
That didn't make sense to them, or to
any of the other kids, either.
the document had a kind of road map that
showed how to get there," Ahmed added
That definitely piqued the kids' interest
- they loved taking cyber-road trips.
"Let's go there for today's meeting!"
Solomon shouted. All the kids agreed.
Ahmed smiled proudly. This was going to
be the best adventure they'd ever shared.
He just knew it. He tapped a few keys
on his laptop, looking for the website
on his saved 'favorites', but he couldn't
find it. It didn't faze him at all. He
quickly typed 'Peacetopia' into the search
engine. The webpage he was looking for
still didn't come up.
All the kids watched patiently over his
shoulder. Even the Wikipedia page seemed
to have been removed, with no explanation
why. Ahmed wasn't one to give up easily,
but he couldn't think of what else to
try. He looked up disappointedly and a
little embarrassedly at his friends. "I
don't understand…" he started to say,
when suddenly there was a flash of light
and a loud clap of thunder off in the
Everyone's mouths fell open. That had
definitely never happened during any of
their cyberspace BetterWorld Kids Club meetings!
They looked around, staring into the cyber-void,
noticing all too well that the amazing
colors they knew and loved here in Cyberspace
seemed to be fading fast.
guys," Michiko whispered. "There's a web
address typing itself onto Ahmed's computer!"
Ten pairs of eyes stared down at the computer.
they read together.
Ahmed looked at everyone. "I do remember
a Wizard in the legend," he said slowly.
"Should I press enter?"
Ten heads nodded, slightly hesitantly.
Just as Ahmed was about to press the ENTER
key, there was another blinding flash
and an even louder clap of thunder. The
echo lasted so long that the BetterWorld Kids'
ears were ringing.
Finally Ahmed noticed that the ringing
sound was coming from his laptop. It was
the low battery beep. "Uh oh," Ahmed gasped.
In his excitement the last few days, had
he forgotten to charge his battery?
The BetterWorld Kids watched in horror as the
laptop ran out of power and shut off.
Just as it did, the last of the colors
around them went out and they were plunged
into total darkness.
The Peace Wizard?
The BetterWorld Kids huddled together in the
darkness not really sure what to do. Their
adventures often got pretty exciting,
and once in a while seemed a little scary,
but they never really worried much. They
knew nothing bad could happen to them
in cyberspace because Ahmed's browser
was set to allow only cybersafe sites.
But now Ahmed's laptop wasn't working
and they had no idea what to expect.
They panicked. "HELP!" They shouted in
at least half a dozen languages.
They had no idea who they were hoping
would hear them and rescue them. They
had no idea what might possibly happen
They definitely didn't expect a window
to open up in the darkness above them.
But that's what happened, although it
turned out to be really more of an empty
picture frame than a window. Golden light
seemed to spill through the frame into
the emptiness like a splash of paint.
The BetterWorld Kids really didn't expect a Wizard
to stick his head through the window/picture
frame and peer around.
But that's what it looked like. And he
was definitely not a painting.
They stared up at the old man. His gaze
was piercing and determined. His face
looked serious with an ageless wisdom.
But his eyes sparkled with a kindness
that made the kids feel at ease.
eta?" the wizardly-looking old man whispered,
peering out into emptiness. His serious,
all-knowing expression melted a little
at the edges until he seemed almost frail.
"Did someone call?" he hesitantly whispered
again, in Russian, but somehow magically
the kids all understood exactly what he
was saying. The old wizard sounded more
afraid than the kids felt.
down here!" the kids called together and
the old man blinked, as if he had never
really expected to hear a reply. Slowly
he gazed down at the kids, and as he did
so, the picture frame tilted with him.
my," the old man gasped. "You're really
there. I… I thought I'd only been imagining
you," he whispered. He thought a moment.
"But then, maybe I still am." He shrugged.
"Nevertheless, we must get you out of
the void," he said a little more loudly,
speaking to the kids this time. And he
reached out his hand towards them.
As the old man reached, the frame lowered
towards the kids, so that in a moment
it was low enough for them to climb over
The old man gazed into their eyes and
he was smiling. "Well, won't you please
come in," he said invitingly, and he stepped
away from the frame to allow them room
to climb inside.
One by one the BetterWorld Kids pulled themselves
up over the ledge and found that they
were indeed climbing out of a large blank,
stretched canvas. Each of them hesitated
a moment, but when they saw the spectacular
mountains that faced them, and the clouds
of every color in the rainbow hanging
over them in delicate wisps, they eagerly
stepped down onto the grassy ledge that
overlooked the amazing scene, and stood
next to their friends, unable to stop
staring in wonder.
Ahmed was the last of the BetterWorld Kids to
climb over, and he clutched his lifeless
laptop under his arm and stared like all
you so much for joining me here," the
old man laughed. "I didn't get any painting
done today, but this is certainly the
most pleasant of daydreams… What a wonderful
One by one the children tore their gaze
away from the beautiful scenery and turned
to the old man. "Are you the Peace Wizard?"
quite a few of them blurted out at once.
The old man's eyes sparkled with laughter
and he chuckled a deep, warm laugh. "In
my daydreams sometimes I wish I were,"
he said playfully. But then suddenly,
he blinked in surprise as he remembered
something and his face had a far-away-quizzical
expression. "I think that might be it!"
he mumbled through his smile.
Absently, he turned, grabbed the empty
canvas and folded up the easel. Still
staring off into space, he grabbed the
box of paints on the ground, and then
walked quickly up the wildflower-lined
path behind them.
The BetterWorld Kids looked at each other questioningly,
took one last glance at the rainbow-colored
mountains, and then hurried after the
old man. As they raced along, trying to
keep up with him, they whispered quietly
to each other about this strange place
in which they seemed to have found themselves.
The path wandered through groves of tall,
lush trees, until up ahead in a clearing,
the kids saw a charming cottage, with
a beautiful garden out front surrounded
by a natural-looking fence of tree limbs
and twine. The old man was heading directly
for it. When he reached the gate, he opened
it quickly, hurrying towards the cottage.
The gate slammed shut just as the children
The kids hesitated just a second and then
entered through the gate. They hurried
up the walk and watched the old man disappear
into the cottage.
The door stood ajar, but the kids weren't
sure what to do. Should they just go inside?
"Hello…" they called, but there was no
reply. Just a muttering from inside as
the old man was talking to himself.
they called again, a little louder. More
muttering greeted their ears.
did leave the door open for us," Ahmed
volunteered. Since he had gotten them
into this mess, he figured he should take
responsibility for the next step in their
adventure, even if it did seem to have
been turning into a rather strange misadventure.
As the kids stepped inside they saw the
empty canvas and the paints and easel
lying on the floor in the foyer. "Hello,"
they called again as they poked their
heads through the foyer into a dimly lit,
but warmly glowing hall.
The old man's muttering continued from
down the hall. They stepped slowly inside
passing several pleasant rooms - a sitting
room, kitchen, dining room, all furnished
modestly with antiques, old leather bound
books on shelves and in piles on tables,
and beautiful paintings on the walls that
wonderfully captured the beautiful scene
they'd witnessed outside, and many others
Near the end of the hall they passed an
open doorway into the largest room of
all - what was undoubtedly the old man's
studio. More of the beautiful paintings
were everywhere - there were hundreds
of them. Many were in various stages of
completion, and the kids found themselves
entranced, unable to turn away.
the old man exclaimed, quite loudly from
the room next door. "Yes, of course, that
makes perfect sense, now!" He was laughing
The kids tore their gaze away from the
paintings and saw their host in what was
obviously the Library. There were books
in all of the rooms, but here they covered
every inch of the walls and there were
stacks piled high all around the room.
The old man sat leaning over a book and
paintbrush strewn desk over to the side.
He was intently poring over what looked
to be a large, old cracked piece of parchment
sir," the BetterWorld Kids whispered from the
doorway, afraid they might startle the
But they could have yelled and he still
wouldn't have heard them as he ran his
finger over the parchment and paused between
contented mumblings to giggle like a child.
"Yes, yes…" he laughed.
The kids crept softly forward and peered
over the old man's shoulder at the parchment
which was ornately decorated with a swirly
writing none of them could understand.
the ancient document I saw on the website!"
Ahmed suddenly exclaimed quite loudly
as he poked his head through his friends.
The old man turned around suddenly and
his eyes grew wide when he saw the children
standing around him. "Oh my, you're still
The kids fidgeted uneasily. "This is quite
a daydream," the old man said, smiling.
"Oh dear, where are my manners. Please
accept my apologies my friendly apparitions,
for my inhospitableness. Oh, dear me,"
he said looking around the room, "the
place is a mess, isn't it. Anna … my dear
wife, is away … in America, in fact, giving
a talk about the Society…and her latest
book … and … oh my, my manners … Would
you care for a cup of tea? Oh please,
do sit down … but I guess there isn't
really any place here to sit, is there
… but please do tell me why you're here,
I'm sure it must be important or you wouldn't
still be here… This is indeed quite a
vivid daydream. Perhaps I should be writing
it down, shouldn't I…"
The old man rummaged around amongst the
cluttered pages on the desk and smiled
when he found a red leather bound book
with gold lettering on the cover.
Roerich" the children read.
Nicholas Roerich?!" José exclaimed.
yes, I am…" the old man admitted with
a smile as he stopped scribbling in the
journal, pushed it away, and turned towards
The name didn't mean anything to the other
kids, but José was really excited.
… Mr. Roerich … you created the 'Pax Cultura'
Nicholas Roerich involuntarily jumped
in his seat. "How… how did you know that?"
he gasped, staring at José. I just daydreamed
that up yesterday … I … I haven't even
put it into any of my paintings yet, as
I'm planning on doing …"
José smiled. "They will be wonderful paintings,
is most unusual…" Mr. Roerich, mumbled.
"Even for one of my daydreams…"
the 'Pax Cultura' symbol?" the other kids
wanted to know.
Mr. Roerich was too lost in thought to
speak, but José knew exactly what it was
and was only too happy to tell everyone.
"Pax Cultura is Latin for peace culture
or culture of peace'" José began. "It's
a symbol that Nicholas Roerich created
to be flown over any cultural building
Nicholas Roerich gasped, as he stared
at the children. "That's exactly what
came to me yesterday. I'm going to put
the symbol in many of my paintings. I'm
hoping that countries will adopt it, in
case there's another war."
José sighed sadly. "There will be
more wars, but all of the countries in
the Americas will sign the Pax Cultura
will?" Nicholas Roerich exclaimed in excitement.
but unfortunately most people will never
know about your wonderful symbol," José
Everyone seemed a little sad. Especially
UNESCO will create a whole culture of
peace program," Sunanda piped up.
Erin exclaimed. "And they'll name the
first decade of the new millennium the
International Decade for a Culture of
Peace and nonviolence for the children
of the world."
new Millennium," Roerich whispered with
a faraway look in his eyes. And then his
eyes widened and his attention lunged
back to the ancient parchment. "Why, that's
what this part is about…Hmmm…" he muttered
as he probed over the text. "Yes, the
last Peace Wizard who will lead humanity
onto the final leg on the Road to Peacetopia
will emerge at the beginning of the New