I am trying to find a short story I read as a kid in the 60's. It is about a little boy and his younger sister who find this mechanical toy dropped by aliens into their backyard. The box emits patterns of light. The little boy can figure out the patterns for awhile, but then realizes his younger sister has a much greater understanding of the box. The aliens come for her in the end.

Does anyone know this story?


I have my doubts that this is the right answer, but "Mimsy Were the Borogroves", by Lewis Padgett, fits on several counts. A boy and his sister discover alien toys, which teach them to comprehend moving through dimensions behind the ordinary ones and they disappear. However, I don't see anything about patterns of light in the short story (although the loose film intepretation, The Last Mimzy does use patterns of light), they both advance pretty much evenly, the perspective is largely from the adults in their life, and it's toys from the future, not ones from other planets.

  • I think you've got it. In the print story the younger child (don't remember the sex) becomes much more indoctrinated because they have less to unlearn. Apr 26 '18 at 4:04
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    Another thing, nobody "comes for" the kids in "Mimsy", they leave for dimensions unknown of their own accord.The little sister does progress faster and farther; she's the one who supervises the construction of the dimensional gateway. At least that's how I remember it. Time for a reread.
    – user14111
    Apr 26 '18 at 18:38
  • My understanding of "Mimsy" is that it is about evolution and not aliens, in that the kids encounter toys from a future human generation. From the text Some of the discarded toys of his son Snowen, which the boy had brought with him when he had passed over from Earth, after mastering the necessary technique. (oops .. didn't read your last sentence :D )
    – Peter M
    Apr 27 '18 at 13:33
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    Thank you everyone! You all were a big help.
    – Deb Clare
    May 1 '18 at 14:43

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