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This is a short story I read in the 1st grade, some 20+ years ago, that was included in our reading textbook.

What I remember is that the girl in the story was new to the area, possibly a Mars or Moon colony, and she was different than many of the students. For one, I believe she was green. She also spent time in a room with a giant skylight, because she got all of her energy from photosynthesis.

I don't remember if there was any plot besides that. I believe the story was actually used to segue into teaching us about plants, so there's the possibility this was a small excerpt of a larger work.

(It's not All Summer in a Day, but a recent question about that story reminded me of this one)


If it helps, I'm almost positive the textbook this was in also included the story Lose Now, Pay Later by Carol Farley. But, it was a grade-school textbook, not an anthology work (so, not 2041).

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I was searching for this story too, and knew almost exactly as much as you did—that it was about green photosynthetic kids, and that I associated it with "Lose Now, Pay Later" (a story I went on a similar search for several years ago). I'd forgotten the skylight, but vaguely remembered there being red-skinned kids too.

After an hour of searching, I came across what I'm pretty sure is the right story: "The Green People of Solaron." I only found a document file and references to it in lesson plans, no author information or independent references to it whatsoever. I even looked through the contents of the textbook I was able to find that had "Lose Now, Pay Later" in it, to no avail. Which makes me wonder if we had the same 7th Grade English class :).

Scientists on Earth wanted to know whether human skin cells could act like tiny plants by using the energy of sunlight to make glucose from carbon dioxide and water. This process called photosynthesis produces glucose, a sugar plants use as food. If human cells could make their own food, scientists thought, colonists on planets such as Solaron would not have to grow so much food. With less need for grown food, the colonists on Solaron could have smaller farms. This would save precious space under the colony’s bubble and conserve limited energy resources. Green people could help Solaron in another way too. Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis. Human photosynthesis would be a source of oxygen. Green people would give off oxygen – just a green plants do – for other people to breathe.

Here's an illustration from the textbook this short story appeared in:

enter image description here

And this is a home like the main character Zara's, which is essentially a giant skylight:

enter image description here

  • This... Seems like it may be the complete story that would have been in the text book, without illustrations. I read this in 1st grade, but I'm pretty sure it was a textbook designed to be used throughout elementary school. I have to look into this more before accepting, but this is an amazing jumping point and I'll be surprised if not it. – user31178 Feb 23 '17 at 3:30
  • You may like this: sciencewithmrsmorton.weebly.com/uploads/5/8/7/0/58703399/… – user31178 Feb 23 '17 at 3:32
  • This scan is in color, and is for sure the illustrations I remember, but I also know that the "Lose Now, Pay Later" had similar illustrations. I can't tell if maybe I'm just mixing up the relationship, or if Prentice Hall once published Lose Now, Pay Later as part of another science book and what I read was compendium. Regardless, after finding the illustrations I can confirm this was 100% the right answer. – user31178 Feb 23 '17 at 3:55
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    Also Tom, welcome to the SF & Fantasy Stack. Great first answer! I hope you'll stick around. – SQB Feb 23 '17 at 6:53

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