Everyone has a favorite book that started them on their journey as a writer. The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree is mine.
This was my first science fiction story. It originally came out in 1952, illustrated and written by Louis Slobodkin. It's the story of a martian named Marty who lands in an apple orchard. He meets a little boy named Eddie, and they become fast friends. I remember laughing at the weird things Marty did when confronting ordinary situations -- for humans. They travel around in Marty's ship, which can be turned into a little green car.
This is that magic book that started my love of reading. It's long out of print, unfortunately. Most of the copies that are available are ones that were purged from libraries. I was looking for a copy for several years, only finding the occasional trashed copy for a few hundred bucks. Eventually, earlier this year, I found a first edition in excellent shape, with the paper cover intact. Only $55 through Amazon, which I find oddly ironic.
If you're trying to get a kid to read, this is a good one to start with. Go to Amazon and take a look at the comments for this book. Review after review mentions that this started their trip down the path for reading speculative fiction.
The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree
by Louis Slobodkin
Note: Out of print for years, but
still at an Amazon rank of 197K