Ahab is a boy that lives by himself in one of the old shacks in the woods.
He goes into the tiny town nearby and tries to find work. Usually one of the shops in the market will pay him to sweep or to carry boxes or do anything else.
Ahab also digs through the trash and sometimes he finds something tasty to eat for himself, or if he doesn’t want it, he will keep it anyway and share it with the dogs that stay with him at night. Ahab collects all sorts of things from the trash. Old books, parts from broken down robots, clothes, toys, etc. Ahab wears a blue plastic watch that plays music and tells him the weather. He is amazed somebody threw it out.
After Ahab works in the morning, he walks to the village school and watches the children kick a ball around during recess.
There is a tall fence that surrounds the school. He imagines that if the fence were gone, he would kick the ball with the children. Become their friends. He would show them all of the cool things that he had collected and tell them stories about the woods.
When school ends, Ahab watches the children leave and go home with their parents. He knows when all the restaurants and shops empty their trash so he stops again at a few on his walk back.
One day the tiny village is visited by a stern important government official surrounded by soldiers. He gives a speech in the center of town, and everyone shows up. Ahab ignores the speeches but instead watches workers setting up tables. Ahab is the first in line at the table and once the speech ends, he gets a nice sticker and several handfuls of candy. Ahab leaves early and walks out of town, back to the woods and as he walks, he notices everyone looks scared.
The next morning, Ahab walks back into town and sees soldiers everywhere. All the people are unhappy. The shop that always pays him in day-old bread to sweep and carry boxes has been destroyed. There are soldiers carrying things out of the smashed windows. Ahab hides and watches as the shopkeeper is taken away into the jail, which was always empty before now.
Ahab sees this happen to a lot of people. Soldiers go into houses and carry people away.
Ahab runs home. That night he sees other people hiding in some of the other shacks. He recognizes them. They are some of the families he watched at school! They are all miserable here. They don’t know how to stay warm by making a fire.
Ahab then decides to do something.
He gathers up all his old junk and stays up all night working.
When the sun comes up, Ahab has built a robot from all the old trash. He puts in batteries, but the robot won’t start.
Then he takes the batteries out of his blue plastic watch, uses them, and his robot wakes up.
Ahab says “protect the town!” and he and his dogs watch as the robot flies into the sky.
Ahab watches as his robot battles the soldiers. Ahab’s pack of dogs all bark as the soldiers run away.
The robot breaks open the jail and frees the shopkeeper.
Everyone in town thanks Ahab and his pack of dogs and Ahab’s robot. Then Ahab and all kids at school kick a ball around and he is really happy.