I read a book when I was younger that I can't remember the title or the name of the author. The book was a part of a collection for kids and young teenagers. The book must have between 60 and 100 pages. There was a couple of pages with illustrations.

The book tells a story of a geek boy that ends up in an observatory where a group of scientists is searching for aliens using a very large antenna. I don't know how the kid gets there, if he won a competition or something.

So, the scientists show him around. The big antenna, the control room, the accommodations, etc.

They eventually capture a signal that displays a pattern. But spoiler alert,

it turns out there was a nest of woodpeckers inside the antenna.

EDIT: If I remember correctly the book ends without saying explicitly that the signal patterns were being produced by the woodpeckers. The final scene happens when everyone is at the control room, waiting for the signals. They wait for a long time until one of the scientists walks in the room with a folded rag. She unfolds it in front of the main researcher revealing a dead woodpecker. The end!

The end!

Does anyone have any idea which book I'm talking about? name? author?

  • I accept suggestions on which tags to use for this type of question. Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 6:27
  • 1
    That book doesn't really sound like science fiction or fantasy. Is it?
    – user14111
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 6:31
  • 1
    Not if you know the end of the book... But when I took it from the stand I was expecting to read a science fiction book. And it was under "science fiction" section. Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 6:34
  • The Russian Woodpecker?
    – Joe L.
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 14:09
  • 1
    @user14111 Penzias and Wilson had to evict some pigeons from the horn antenna before they discovered the cosmic microwave background. Fiction about science == Science fiction.
    – Spencer
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


Could this be Danny Dunn and the Voice from Space, published in 1967? The brief Wikipedia entry has a picture of one cover. The Danny Dunn series tended to be short, but not under 100 pages; this one is about 150.

If decoding the signal involved deciding that, since the length of the repeated message was the product of two primes X and Y, they could make a black-and-white picture out of the information by coloring or not coloring squares on a grid X by Y in size, there's a good chance this is the story you're after.

Plot summary from user Shawn at goodreads.com starts with:

Professor Bullfinch invents a "thermoelement" or "cryostat" (which Danny dubs The Zero-Maker), a self-contained, compact electron-driven heat pump that could prove useful in inexpensively cooling the masers used in radio telescopes. With the help of his old friend Dr. Hubert Badger (expert in SETI type astronomy), they convince Sir Edward Pomfret to test it out on his radio telescope array in England for Project GNOME, allowing the entire cast of characters (even the parents!) to travel abroad, meet new people (Meg Lucas, daughter of the innkeeper and her pet monkey Mr. Parsley) and perhaps be present at the first reception of a message from space!

  • Shawn keeps writing and you can see at the end of his comment a "show spoilers" button where he tells the ending of that book. It is not the book I was looking for, but it seems very very similar, almost like the author wrote copied the story and just changed the end. +1 for finding this other book. I might actually read this one instead ;-) Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 7:09
  • @GabrielOshiro: Too bad it's not the right match. I thought I vaguely remembered something about a nest in the antenna in this one, too. In the story you're after, was it the presence of the nest that caused the pattern, then? If so, you can add that and any other details to your question; the consensus is that there's no need to worry about spoiler alerts for story identification questions.
    – Otis
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 20:21

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