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In the late 1970s or maybe even 1980 I read a book in school. It was a paperback and I remember it consisting of several short stories. It was illustrated. It was most definitely written for young readers. My reading level was pretty advanced and I think I encountered it in a class for advanced reading, so it might have been written at the YA level. It might have been a special publication for educational purposes, or possibly something put out by Scholastic or similar publisher.

  • It was set on an alien planet that was having a water crisis- either a severe drought or the breakdown of the usual water supply systems.
  • The main character was a young human (90% sure a boy) whose parents were scientists or officials of the settlement / colony.
  • The humans lived / coexisted peacefully with a near-human alien species that I seem to remember being depicted as having no hair.
  • There was a creature that threatened the people in the story called the sork. The sork was depicted on the book's cover and was a large white creature with a smooth carapace, claws, and red eyes.
  • There was a scene where the main character boy and his alien pal get in trouble but come through it okay and are back at the settlement. They're thirsty but worried about the water shortage. They're told that they can have all the water they want.
  • Fuzzy: There might have been a discussion between the father of the human boy and the parent of the alien child where one praises the other for saving the other's child first.
  • Fuzzier: There may have been a situation where the grass or plants were somehow dangerous to the settlers because they were sharp or poisonous.

It is entirely possible that some of these details might have been from other stories (if the book was an anthology) blending together but I'm very sure of the cover, the monster, the drought, the human and alien coexistence and the "you can have all the water you want' scene as being from the same story.

I've done all kinds of searches, on and off, for years trying to locate this book, story, and author. It kind of haunts my dreams and I'm extremely curious to read it again and see if it affects me in the same way.

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The Humans of Ziax II by John Morressy. The cover shows the sork:

The Humans of Ziax II

The Earthmen and the natives of the planet Ziax join forces to find out why water seems to be disappearing from the planet.

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  • THANK YOU. This story / book was like a splinter in my brain for the past four decades. Like a song you can remember snatches of but not the title, and I so very much wanted to experience it again. Thanks to you, now I can! Did you read this book in school, too? Jul 11, 2023 at 2:14

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