The Eco Treasure Hunt
A Better World Kids Adventure
by Robert Alan Silverstein
illustrated by Vineet Siddhartha

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Chapter 1. EcoTreasure Hunt

Sunanda was shaking with excitement as she picked up the package. For two days it had been all she could think about, and she'd had to stop herself a hundred times from tearing it open. Now at last it was time for the Better World Team meeting, and she could finally show it to her friends.

Excitedly, with the package tucked tightly under her arm, she typed in the Club's web address on her computer keyboard. In an instant she was transported INTO Cyberspace.

Looking around, she saw that she was the first one there in the empty, milky white void she knew so well. She didn't even wonder anymore how or why she was magically transported there every week for their meeting. She did at first, of course, but by now she was used to it, and just grateful that she got to meet her friends there. Especially this week!

Finally the other kids started to arrive from their homes all around the world. She did her best to try and sit patiently while they appeared one by one.

"This week's meeting of the Better World Team is officially called to order," Ahmed, the club secretary, typed on his laptop after all of the kids had materialized.

Sunanda took a deep breath and hugged her package tightly. She wanted to jump up and share her news with everyone, but she reminded herself, yet again, that she was trying to work on being more patient.

"Is there any new business?" Ling finally asked.

Sunanda politely waited for Sol to finish telling the Club about a big Peace Festival in his town, that kids working with the international organization, PeaceSeeds, had organized. It brought Israeli and Palestinian children and adults together for a weekend of cultural sharing.

Jamal told everyone about all the scientists and politicians who had just come to his city from all around the world for a United Nations conference about saving endangered animals and plants.

Sunanda congratulated herself as she successfully waited until no one else seemed to have any more news to share. Then just as they were about to move on, she leaped up and showed everyone the package.

"Guys, look at this. It was delivered by special messenger to my father's office. He's an attorney for one of the biggest law firms in India, and he says this is for real!"

Sunanda was so excited that she was jumping up and down.

"But what is it?" everyone wondered.

"The letter that came with it said it's a TREASURE MAP!" Sunanda exclaimed.

"A treasure map?" the kids said in disbelief. They were a little disappointed. After all, only pirates in story books get excited about treasure maps.

"No, really guys!" Sunanda insisted. This is for real. Haven't you heard about that rich, eccentric mega-billionaire who hid a billion dollars. It was in the news all over the world, not just in India … Don't you remember, they called it 'The Great Eco-Treasure Hunt' beause he's known for being concerned about global climate change... "

Most of the Better World Kids remembered hearing about it. "But that was last year," Michiko exclaimed. "And all the newspapers said it was just a hoax … right?"

"They just said that because no one found it!" Sunanda laughed. "But it's real. The note said he's been following the work we've been doing with Better World Teams. He's so impressed at how we've inspired kids all around the world to start their own local clubs… And because of all of the amazing events and activities that all the Better World Teams are doing, he thinks that WE should be the ones to find the treasure… So he's giving us a treasure map!"

The Better World Kids were still pretty skeptical.

"It sure would be great to have that much money available for people who are working to make the world a better place," José sighed. "Think of how much it would do to make our wish for a more peaceful, just and sustainable world come true."

"A billion dollars could really change the world!" Ling said, and all the other kids agreed.

"Well, where does the map say we're supposed to look?" Ling asked. All the Better World Kids seemed to be a little more interested in at least checking into this a little further.

"I don't know, I haven't opened the package yet," Sunanda smiled. "I was waiting until we all opened it together."

"Well, open it!" everyone exclaimed, quite excited now.

Sunanda carefully opened the flaps, slowly so as not to rip it. She was trying very hard to keep her pledge to be more patient, and was feeling quite proud of herself. But the Better World Kids didn't think this was the time to practice patience. "Tear it open, Sunanda," they begged.

Finally the package was open and Sunanda reached inside and pulled out a thick folded wad of paper. Carefully she opened each flap until the paper was completely unfolded. But there was nothing inside. The Better World Kids looked at the large six foot wide sheet of blank paper, and then at Sunanda.

"Isn't a treasure map supposed to have a map on it?" everyone wanted to say, but no one said a word. Sunanda sat down and there were tears in her eyes.

"I don't know what's going on. My father said the lawyers that brought it assured him this was a real treasure map…"

"Uh… Guys, look at this," Johnny said. He had picked up the box and found a tiny magnifying glass inside.

"Maybe it's not a blank page after all," he said as he began poring over the page with the magnifying glass. Everyone stared over his shoulder.

He stopped at the very center of the page. "Look! There's something here…"

"A map?" everyone wondered at once.

"Hmm… well, not exactly," Johnny said. He looked up at his friends.

"Well, what is it?" Sunanda piped out. So much for patience.

"Well, it's a website…"

"A website?" the Better World Kids exclaimed.

"Yep. It's tiny, but that's definitely what it is," Johnny insisted.

"Well, what's the address?" Erin gasped and all the other kids exclaimed the same question.

"Well, you're not going to believe this…"

"What is it?" everyone demanded.


It seemed too obvious to take seriously, but all the Better World Kids thought they should check it out anyway. It didn't matter, because Ahmed was way ahead of them. He'd already typed the address into his laptop, and the kids suddenly found themselves zipping down the information super-highway.


© 2004-2014 Robert Alan Silverstein
Better World Kids Illustrations by Vineet Siddhartha


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Better World Kids header by Vineet Siddhartha