When I was but a wee lad – I think 4th or 5th grade… probably 4th, I read this book: Trillions, by Nicholas Fisk.
Years later I would think about this book as the first science fiction I’d read with a sense of wonder and I recall that I was impressed with myself for having read it.
A couple months ago I got the idea to find the book and read it to my kids who were finishing 1st and 4th grades at the time. I found it used – on Amazon, I think it was – an old library discard that had the ever classic checkout slip in a pocket in back that each person would sign when checking out of the library.
The book was still exciting for a kid to hear, but I found it an extremely vague and unsatisfying to read as an adult. And even my kids felt like it was super unclear what was going on at the end. The concept at the heart of the story was good – sand sized creatures from another planet that could combine with each other to form any shape – but the execution was choppy and felt really unfinished. I give it a thumbs down as a story overall. In retrospect, it was an awkward intro to SF, and I get now that I couldn’t recall the complete story because the story didn’t hold together very well.
The redeeming thing for me was holding and revisiting a memory and recalling the Silver Springs elementary school classroom in Northville where I headed into the SF story realm. And, as I just re-listened to the Douglas Adams, Restaurant at the End of the Universe audiobook, I think the Trillian character had extra resonance because of this book.