For Ages
8 to 12

The Fifth Hero #2: Escape Plastic Island is a part of the The Fifth Hero collection.

FOUR KIDS. ONE EARTH. AND YOU ARE THE HERO THEY NEED. From the creator of the interactive Escape This Book! series, join the climate superheroes as they master the powers of earth, wind, sea, and creatures and use YOUR help to choose the right story line and save the planet!

The Calamity Corporation is determined to destroy Earth. Their latest plot leaves “ugly”  animals in the cold—literally. Any less-than-cute critter will be frozen and blasted into space. Luckily, five climate heroes have the skills to save the day.

JARRETT can talk to animals…even if they don’t always listen.
MALIK masters water…but the floating garbage is a challenge.
FREYA ‘s wind power everyone away..sometimes too powerfully.
AGNES can dig up dirt and soil any evil plan.

Make three decisions in this interactive adventure to help the heroes put the Calamity Corporation on ice. Choose incorrectly and it's game over. But choose wisely, and you might save the planet—and the story!

An Excerpt fromThe Fifth Hero #2: Escape Plastic Island


“You’ve got five seconds until Earth melts . . . LIKE HOT CHEESE!”

The shout echoed in the school gym, and the forty students jumped in their seats. Up on the gym’s stage, a skinny boy stood on a chair. Wearing a mask with a hot dog emoji drawn on the front, he towered over a small girl who crouched beneath him. She wore a mask too, but this one had a drawing of a muscle arm.

The girl gasped. “You can’t turn Earth into melted cheese during the Race to Erase. That’s too weird!”

“Watch me, Muscle Arm!” Hot Dog bellowed. “I’m starting the five-second countdown now. Five . . . four . . .”

“Hot Dog!” the girl whined, stomping her feet like a toddler having a tantrum. “Melting cheese is not fair!”

“Of course it’s fair,” the boy fired back. “I’m Hot Dog of Climate Club, and fair is my life. Now let’s return to the countdown. Three . . . two . . . !”

Before he could get to one, Muscle Arm shrieked, “Wait! I’m in Climate Club too, and I’ll save the animals and the bats before you melt everything!” She extended her arm, showing a circle drawn above her wrist, and cried, “Zap!”

Hot Dog halted his countdown. “Zap? You can’t just say zap during a battle!” Now he sounded on the edge of a tantrum. “What does zap even mean?”

“I created a potato chip tornado!” Muscle Arm yelled triumphantly. “And it’s blowing you away!” When Hot Dog didn’t move, the girl pouted. “Come on, Hot Dog. You’ve got to be blown away.”

“Fine,” Hot Dog sighed. “Don’t be such a crybaby.” Reluctantly, he waved his arms and fell limply off the chair. But there was nothing limp about his landing. When his feet hit the floor, Hot Dog held up his palm and aimed it at Muscle Arm. “Zap zappity zap!” he cried. “I command all the chocolate chip cookies to shake the ground! So you’ve got to shake!”

“Okay, okay.” Muscle Arm took a deep breath and cried, “Oh no! I’m shaking and all off-balance!” She staggered around and slid in slow motion off the edge of the stage. Once on the gym floor, she bounced off a cafeteria table . . .

. . . and that was the table where Jarrett and Malik sat with their friends Agnes and Freya. The fifth graders were sharing a box of doughnuts.

“Whoa there, Muscle Arm!” Malik laughed and slid the doughnuts to safety before the masked girl accidentally jabbed the box with her elbow.

Everyone at the table--except Freya, who was writing furiously in a notebook--had been watching the pair of first graders play a game called Climate Club. Jarrett couldn’t look away. After all, while no one else knew it, the game was based on him and his three friends. Agnes appeared the most enchanted. She had draped her long black curly hair over her shoulder and was absentmindedly braiding it as she focused her attention on the game.

Malik leaned close to Jarrett’s ear and whispered, “Holy moly, Hot Dog and Muscle Arm need acting lessons, am I right?” Malik’s breath smelled like the chocolate-frosted and raspberry-filled doughnuts he had mashed together to make one “raspolate” doughnut. But Jarrett didn’t mind.

“True,” Jarrett whispered back. Then again, he thought, they weren’t at a movie. It was morning recess inside the gym. They never played outside anymore--the pollution and natural disasters had made that too dangerous. Or at least, Jarrett thought, that’s what the Calamity Corporation wanted the world to think so everyone would move to the company’s space colonies orbiting Earth.

By now, the Climate Club game had spun out of control. Hot Dog leapt off the stage, and he and Muscle Arm dashed between tables and rolled on the floor, screaming “Zap! Zap! Zap!” and pointing their palms at each other.

Finally, Hot Dog announced dramatically, “I didn’t want it to come to this, but you’ve given me no choice, Muscle Arm! I’ve combined the power of all four palm spheres into One sphere, and I will now use the One to--”


Everyone froze, including Muscle Arm and Hot Dog. Jarrett wasn’t surprised to see that the scary command had exploded from his classmate Lina Limwick. As Lina stormed furiously toward the stage from across the gym, her shaved head and black plastic jumpsuit reflected the overhead fluorescent lights.

Lina stepped between the two first graders and extended her arms, making herself into a T, then shouted, “SCOOT!”

“Ahhh!” the smaller kids screamed in terror, as if a real villain had suddenly appeared in their game. Tearing off their masks, they darted away to join the rest of their class.

“Oh, don’t be such babies!” Lina called after them. Then, noticing other students at nearby tables watching, she seemed to rethink her frightening tone. “Juice boxes on me later!” she chirped in a fake cheery voice, and blew air kisses to the two fleeing kids. “Love you, mean it!”

With that done, Lina spun around. As she slammed her hands down on the table where Jarrett and his friends sat, she nearly flattened the doughnuts for a second time that morning. Everyone jumped, except for Freya, who was still lost in thought while writing in her notebook.

Lina unleashed a full-on glare at them. All signs of cheeriness, fake or otherwise, were gone. “Ahhh!” Jarrett said, imitating the kids who had run off.

This got an eye roll from Lina, but no other reaction. He guessed she was too furious.

“Why are those little kids still playing that stupid Climate Club game?” she hissed at them. “It’s been part of recess for weeks!”

“Oh, I think it’s cool we inspired a game,” Agnes said. Then she seemed to regret it, as if knowing she was baiting Lina. “Come on, Lina. What’s the big deal? It’s just a game about the last Race to Erase.”

“Exactly!” Lina cried. “How do they know about what happened at the end of the race and about . . . other things?”

Clearly the “other things” were what had Lina so furious, Jarrett thought. She had started shouting when that first grader used the word One. Was that it? But Lina kept talking before Jarrett could ask. “You four are the only people--other than me, of course--who know the truth about that day. That means someone here has been talking. Which of you is it?”

Jarrett bit his lip. He hadn’t blabbed. Why would he want to even think about the Race to Erase? Lina’s parents and their powerful company, the Calamity Corporation, had almost wiped out all life on Earth with their races to erase what they called “pests”--and had nearly killed Jarrett and his three friends in the process! The only things that saved the four were the high-tech orbs that accidentally embedded in their hands, giving them superpowers and the ability to work with the mysterious Fifth Hero. Jarrett rubbed his thumb over the bump in his palm and kept silent.

When no one responded to her question, Lina snatched the notebook from Freya’s hands, snapping her out of her fog.

“Unacceptable!” Freya protested. “Return that to me immediately.” Her long legs were stuck under the table for a moment, but she managed to get to her feet and reach for the notebook.

Lina danced away a few steps. “Ugh, Freya, we’re all eleven, not eighty. Can you please learn to speak kid?” Lina flipped through the notebook’s pages, scanning here and there. “Blah, blah, blah. Nothing juicy here anyway. Just more words. Poems about space elevators? Really? And who even writes with a pen anymore? Boring.”

“Lina!” Jarrett objected.

Lina lifted her hands, as if she understood she’d gone too far. “Your writing is super pretty, Freya,” she said more gently. “But you’ve got to admit it’s boring. No? Can’t admit it? Fine.”

Tossing the notebook to Freya, Lina turned to face Malik. “What about you, Malik? Have you been blabbing your head off about the last Race to Erase?”

Clutching the briefcase in his lap, Malik shook his head rapidly. “Me? No! But I do want to blab to you about my parents’ new elevator--”

Lina cut him off by whipping her head toward Agnes.

“Not me either!” Agnes spluttered. “I wouldn’t do anything to mess with you, Lina. You scare me too much!”

Speaking of fear, Jarrett decided to nip things in the bud before Lina turned her anger on him. “I swear, I haven’t said a word,” he blurted, waving his palm in front of her face. “We all still have the fake skin you gave us to hide the Ponies!”

“Don’t say the P-word . . . ever!” Lina hissed, glancing around to make sure the other kids hadn’t overheard. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Lina . . . easy there.” Jarrett felt like he was dealing with an angry bear in the woods (again).

But Lina wasn’t listening. “Did you--the four heroes!--forget everything?” she demanded, hitting the word heroes with a heavy dose of mockery. “Let me remind you. You barely escaped getting captured at the Race to Erase! I had to give you a ride back from Arizona with you hiding in the trunk of my FuelFlighter. And that trunk still smells like exploding space robot, thanks to you!”

“Hold on!” Jarrett said. “Why’d you send us that message demanding that we meet here now, Lina? To show us how scary you can be? Because we already know that.”

Lina cocked an eyebrow at him. “No, smart guy. I called this emergency meeting of the Climate Club for a very different reason. But before we start, I guess I need to remind you of our deal,” she said. “You don’t use the superpowers you got from the . . .” She mouthed the word Ponies. “And you do not talk to anyone about anything that happened a month ago at the Race to Erase. If you manage those two very simple things, I will keep your secret and cover for you. I won’t tell my family you stole the P-word. I wouldn’t want that. And you wouldn’t want that either, would you?”

No, no, I would not, Jarrett decided with a shiver. In a quest to retrieve the trillion-dollar Ponies, Lina’s brother, Tommy, had launched two asteroid-eating robots on a cross-country mission of total destruction. The Climate Club had barely escaped the robots, Slicer and Dicer, with their lives, and Tommy and the Calamity Corporation had plenty of other tricks in their arsenal. Nothing would stop them if they knew the Ponies were buried in the kids’ palms.

“Everybody in the audience at the Race to Erase had phones,” Malik said. “Anyone in the crowd could have shot a video of us freeing those doomed bats and put it online.”

Lina shook her head. “Those videos have been scrubbed off the internet. The Calamity Corporation made sure of it. After all, you made my parents look awful, didn’t you?”

“Even if all the videos were destroyed, the people who were there can still talk,” Agnes argued. “Besides, you saw the way those first graders were playing. They don’t even know what kinds of powers we have or what we look like.”

“Good point, Aggie!” Jarrett chimed in. “I mean, I can talk to animals, not potato chips or cookies. Malik’s thing is all about water, not melting cheese. And, Agnes, you’re what? Like, earthquakes or something?”

“Earthquakes for sure,” Agnes said, and then turned to Freya. “I remember what you are, Freya. You’re air, right?”

Freya glanced up from her notebook and nodded absentmindedly. Then she returned to writing.

Their denials finally calmed Lina. With a sigh, she plopped down on the bench next to Jarrett. “Here’s the thing. We need to make sure our real Climate Club--and our message that Earth is the worst--is way different from that dumb Climate Club game. The game is spreading around the world. Before long, millions of little kids will want to save Earth, and we all know it’s way too late for that, don’t we?”

Jarrett wasn’t so certain anymore. He doubted nearly everything the Calamity Corporation wanted them to think.

Without warning, Lina switched gears and jumped to her feet. “Okay, people, let’s go,” she ordered.

“Um, what?” Malik asked, echoing Jarrett’s confusion. “Where are we going?”

Another eye roll from Lina. “If you bothered to listen to the club announcements on The Lina Show, you’d know,” Lina snapped. “We’re going to New Plastic Island.”

This got Freya’s attention. “Oh, is that today?” She put down her pen for the first time all morning. “I had that in my calendar for next week.”

Jarrett remembered now too, or sort of. Hadn’t Lina planned a field trip for the Climate Club? She’d yelled about it on her daily livecast, The Lina Show, which Jarrett only watched with the sound off--Lina shouted a lot. Still, he’d managed to pick up bits of information. The plan was to fly out to an enormous island made of plastic about a hundred and fifty miles offshore.

“You want to go today?” Agnes protested, gazing at the first graders like she wanted to see more of their game. “But we have school.”

“This is way more important than school,” Lina corrected her. “My parents called your parents, and it’s set. They’re all excited. Especially yours, Malik. They started crying with joy. Gross.”

Embarrassed, Malik clutched the briefcase in his lap tightly, and his face went splotchy.

“My point is,” Lina continued, “everyone understands that the Climate Club is more important than algebra or whatever else goes on here. So, I repeat: let’s go!”

With that, she spun on her heel and stormed toward the exit, sending first graders scattering before her in fear.


The four friends left at the table shrugged at each other.

When Lina got like this, there was nothing they could do but go along with her plans, as weird as they might be. Honestly, though, Jarrett wasn’t sad about the surprise field trip--he had a quiz in life science that afternoon and he’d be glad to miss it.

Jarrett said, “What do you think, Malik? Should we--?”

Malik cut him off by leaping to his feet and rushing after Lina.

“What’s his hurry?” Agnes asked, eyebrows raised.

Jarrett had an idea, but he hoped he was wrong. He merely shrugged again, grabbed his backpack, and hustled out of the gym with the girls in tow. By the time they caught up to Malik, Lina had already disappeared down the hallway. Jarrett knew where she was headed, though. Lina had a spot in the faculty parking lot for her FuelFlighter, her gas-guzzling flying ship.

Every other kid had to wait till they were at least sixteen to get a license to fly a FuelFlighter, but not Lina. Rules, as she was happy to tell anyone with ears, did not apply to her. After all, her family’s company made the FFs, so she figured that gave her special rights.

Under the Cover