The Star Beast is a 1954 science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein about a high school senior who discovers that his late father's extra-terrestrial pet is more than it appears to be. The novel was originally serialised in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (May, June, July 1954) as "Star Lummox" and then published in hardcover as part of the Scribner's Heinlein juveniles. (Thanks Wikipedia!)
Darn! Not in print - only used copies available at B&N. Few libraries had it - I just re-read a copy I bought in a used bookstore. Check here for library copies.
Interesting that this is considered a juvenile - considering the issues like children being able to divorce their parents was part of the story - a challenging issue TODAY, let alone in 1954, when it was published. A great story, IMNSHO. I love these paleo-futures (futures from yesterday.) I find intriguing that - in 1954! - one of the primary characters, Mr. Kiku, is a black African (from Kenya, I think) who is a career bureaucrat - but a good one - who really runs the "Department of Space," even though he is the under-secretary (the Secretary is a know-nothing political appointee). Also interesting was how many of the principal adult characters smoked - bits of business were used all over in the story about this. Looking for cigarettes, trying to light them, etc. - odd how dated that seems.
A very interesting story and thoughtful. Also clever in its multiple view points (John, the hero, Lummox, the beast, Mr. Kiku and the other people from the Department of Space). I wish more SF like this was being written now.