"In his tiny bedroom, high above the city, Nova leaned over his workbench--wrapping, twisting, cutting, clipping. The evening sun glinted off his steel brow, then sank behind the crystal spires of Roton, making them glisten like rubies."
So begins David Kirk's futuristic picture book Nova's Ark, the somewhat complex story of a young robot named Nova, whose most precious possession (besides his robot dog "Sparky") is a brittle wooden ark and a set of carved animals made by humans in the ancient days of Roton. Nova misses his dad, who left on a space mission nearly a year ago. He dreams (when plugging himself into the dream console) of flying to the stars with his adventurous father. Exploration, it seems, is "in his wiring."
On a school field trip to the Space Center, Nova's world turns upside down. At the pilot's console of the Glax Cruiser, he can't help himself--he pulls the lever and the spaceship roars to life! Before he knows it he is lost and alone in outer space. Weeks pass. Months! One day, in his search for his home planet, he crashes into a mountain on a barren moon and his ship is destroyed: "There were no signs of robot life. How would he ever get home? Who would take care of his mother? Who would take care of Sparky?" He wondered if this was how his father felt on his lone travels. The next morning he awakes to a cheerful new sun and decides to concoct Sparky number 2 out of the wreckage of his crashed spaceship. He doesn't stop there! He builds a whole menagerie of animals... and last but not least "an elephant ark, whose mighty trunk bellowed a message deep into the heavens: 'HELP!'"
His distant father evidently hears the call, but crashes in his attempt to find his son, and is seriously injured. Each of Nova's robot animals gives something of itself to revive him... and Nova donates a valve from his own heart. It works! Of course, his dad has kangaroo feet... but he is alive! After many mechanical shenanigans--and a wonderful discovery of crystal energy that means salvation for their planet--they fly home to Roton and are greeted as heroes. Kirk, beloved creator of the Miss Spider books, has produced a masterpiece of 3-D computer imaging so vivid it recalls the set of Toy Story, but the plot twists and turns and dense narrative will demand quite a bit more concentration. (Ages 6 and older; perhaps best for reading aloud) --Karin Snelson [via]