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Plot Details/Summary:

This particular book was part of "story time" that the teacher read to the class when I was in elementary school back in the 70s, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details. What I do remember is that some kids, and possibly a parent/guardian, travel to an alien planet. The aliens there have a problem: sulphur/sulfur is a vital nutrient to them, and their natural source has somehow run out.

I recall one of the kids - I think a little girl - solves their problem by giving the aliens her pet chicken. The yolk in the eggs she lays have enough sulphur to sustain them. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a temporary fix until they found a more permanent source, of if they planned on breeding more chickens to make it a sustainable thing. The humans return to Earth at the end, I think.

Publication Details:

The book would have come out no later than the mid-to-late 1970s. It was very "soft" sci-fi, written for a young audience. That's all I can remember.

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This must surely be "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet" by Eleanor Cameron. It was first published in 1954, but I'm sure it was still being read in schools in the 1970s.

Two boys, with the assistance of an alien living in their town ("Mr Bass"), build a spaceship and travel to a near-by world inhabited by the titular "Mushroom People". Mr Bass, himself a Mushroom Person, stranded on Earth, had sent them because he had become aware that his homeworld was in trouble. The trouble was that a change in the planet's temperature had killed the plants which the inhabitants depended on as a source of sulfur, and they are growing sick and dying. When the children eat a boiled egg as a snack they realize:

"It's sulfur!" shouted David. "My mom told me. It's sulfur in the yolk of the egg. That's it. Chuck - the smell up there. Those are sulfur springs! It's sulfur the Mushroom People have to have. Just a little, just a trace maybe, but they have to have it!"

On the instructions of the alien they had taken their pet chicken, Mrs Pennyfeather, with them on the trip, and they leave her behind to lay eggs for the Mushroom People.

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