couldn't wait for this week's PeaceKids Club meeting.
He kept thinking about how thrilled the other kids
would be when they heard about the amazing thing
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
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 home.
Ahmed dashed up the stairs and quickly grabbed his
laptop. He typed in the PeaceKids Club web address,
pressed enter, and instantly found himself transported
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
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 him.
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
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 things."
good, Ahmed," Jamal agreed. "When did this place
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 Juan said at the same time. That didn't
make sense to them, or to any of the other kids,
the document had a kind of road map that showed
how to get there," Ahmed added quickly.
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
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 distance.
Everyone's mouths fell open. That had definitely
never happened during any of their cyberspace PeaceKids
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
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
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
PeaceKids' 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 PeaceKids 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 PeaceKids 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 next.
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 PeaceKids really didn't expect a Wizard to stick
his head through the window/picture frame and peer
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
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
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 edge.
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 PeaceKids 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
Ahmed was the last of the PeaceKids to climb over,
and he clutched his lifeless laptop under his arm
and stared like all the others.
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 surprise!"
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
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
The PeaceKids 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 reached it.
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 like it.
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 excitedly.
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 paper.
sir," the PeaceKids whispered from the doorway,
afraid they might startle the old painter.
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
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 here …!"
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?!" Juan 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 children.
The name didn't mean anything to the other kids,
but Juan was really excited.
… Mr. Roerich … you created the 'Pax Cultura' symbol!"
Nicholas Roerich involuntarily jumped in his seat.
"How… how did you know that?" he gasped, staring
at Juan. 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 …"
Juan 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
Mr. Roerich was too lost in thought to speak, but
Juan knew exactly what it was and was only too happy
to tell everyone. "Pax Cultura is Latin for peace
culture or culture of peace'" Juan began. "It's
a symbol that Nicholas Roerich created to be flown
over any cultural building like museums…"
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
Juan sighed sadly. "There will be more wars,
but all of the countries in the Americas will sign
the Pax Cultura treaty!"
will?" Nicholas Roerich exclaimed in excitement.
but unfortunately most people will never know about
your wonderful symbol," Juan sighed.
Everyone seemed a little sad. Especially Mr. Roerich.
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 Millennium …"