I remember having a textbook in jr high, possibly 10th grade, in the '90s, which had an SF section. One of the stories I have identified as “The Star Beast” by Nicholas Stuart Gray. The title of the other one I can recall eludes me.

It is about a small boy who is sick at home. As he gets sicker, he begins to imagine that the disease is taking him over and changing him, organ by organ, into something else. As each part is taken over, he ceases to be able to feel it. Eventually, it reaches his brain and everything goes black.

When he wakes up, he gets up and goes to touch his pet bird. He closes the cage and waits to see what will happen.

I can't remember what the other ones were. Some of the stories were illustrated with full-page blue-colour line illustrations.

Update: Identified another story from an answer here. "Zoo 2000".

A scan of the story from the textbook was included in a comment, which jibes with my memory.

  • 1
    I found two textbooks that contain the first story, one is called Snapshots, the other Perception... do either of those titles ring a bell? Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 19:54
  • @starpilotsix Any links? Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 20:57
  • It may be Perception. I'll order a copy and see. Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 22:02
  • Ive read this story in several collections of stories for children, although I don't recall the title. (I've actually read two stories with the premise of a person being taken over by a disease.) Are you interested specifically in the textbook, or are you looking for the story? Commented Aug 19, 2016 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


I believe the story with the boy and the pet bird is Ray Bradbury's "Fever Dream." The link on Wikipedia has a version of the story that ends without him touching the bird, but I found other references that do:

In the parlor, before the others entered, he quickly opened the bird cage, thrust his hand in, and petted the yellow canary, once. Then he shut the cage door, stood back, and waited.


I imagine the second version is a rewrite but perhaps someone more knowledgeable about Bradbury might have more information.

  • I think you're right about the story. What collection it appeared in is still mystery though.
    – Buzz
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 4:31
  • Yes! This is the story! Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 10:53

This might be the collection Skylark Science Fiction Stories, from 1980. Here is the cover (which totally does not have Darth Vader and an X-wing on it).

That is not an X-wing, I swear!

It is illustrated, which matches the question. Moreover, the contents seem to be geared towards the children or young adult readerships, with light stuff like Clarke's "Feathered Friend" and Asimov's "The Fun They Had."

However, I am posting this as a possibility because there is also a story called "Bit by Bit by Bit," by Elizabeth Mace. I am just making a guess here based on the title (and the fact that Mace wrote fairly dark science fiction and fantasy for children), that it might be the story about the boy's body being taken over, bit by bit by bit.

  • Sorry, but this is not the textbook. Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 10:52

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