I'm trying to remember a story set on future earth, IIRC.

The alien is a baby-talking giant caterpillar-y kind of creature. a 'leave it to beaver' type boy looks after it, his dad maybe has military/nasa-type links hence why they have this alien. Its a 'Lassie' sort of story.

At the end the military is intervening, the pet's parent is rampaging, and suddenly the pet grows arms and picks up a rock to defend itself, thereby demonstrating the last checkpoint set by the space agency or whatever for 'sentient alien life', meaning it's murder to kill it.

This would have been in print probably in the 50s at the earliest but could have been added to whatever elementary school library between then and 1990

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    Does this involve the pet eating a large amount of scrap metal to get larger?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 20, 2018 at 19:25
  • Welcome to SFF.SE! You've provided a fair amount of information, but go ahead and look at the answers to this question for suggestions on additional information you can ask. Presumably, you read this in 1990? Was it a novel, or a short story in a collection? Do you remember how old the book looked (not a guarantee of actual age, but may help). Edit additional information into your question if you think of any (you may have to register your account and merge it with your unregistered one)
    – RDFozz
    Mar 20, 2018 at 19:30

1 Answer 1


This is Robert A. Heinlein's The Star Beast. The beast is called Lummox and was picked up long ago by the kid's great-great-grandfather. The kid is named John Thomas (just like a dozen or so of his forebears.) Pretty much everything you wrote about happens in the story. The date's right, too. It was published in 1954.

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  • 2
    The original Philosoraptor! Mar 20, 2018 at 23:39

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