Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope by "Victor Appleton" (in this case, Thomas Moyston Mitchell)
Tom Swift, young inventor, first arrived in 1910 in Tom Swift and His Motorcycle, or, Fun and Adventure on the Road, which introduced Tom, his chum Ned Newton, and his fathers, cientist Barton Swift. Although the first two books in the series were mundane juvenile adventures, young Tom soon began to tinker with way in science fiction territory where his inventions were as astounding as his adventures. Tom wove his way into the hearts of young readers, first with a series of forty novels from 1910 to 1941, then, as "Tom Swift, Jr.," with a series of 33 novels from 1954 to 1971. Since then there have been an additional 30 books in three additional series, ending in 2007. Over 30,000,000 Tom Swift books have been sold worldwide.
Tom Swift was invented by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, who had developed a syndicate to churn out hundreds of books for young readers. Most of the Tom Swift books were written by Howard Garis from a brief outline usually written by Stratemeyer. Statemeyer's daughter, Harriet, wrote the last three book in the series that were published by Grosset & Dunlap. (Harriet would later produce the Tom Swift, Jr. series.) The last two books published in the original series were written by Thomas Moyston Mitchell and were published by Whitman as "Better Little Books" (think Big Little Books, but...well, I guess...better). These two Better Little Books measured bout 3 5/8" by 4 1/2" by 1 1/2" to make it easy for young hands to hold. The first of these two books, Tom Swift and His Giant Telescope, was heavily (and poorly, IMHO) illustrated by James Gray. (The second, Tom Swift and His Magnetic Silencer was illustrated by J.R. White. According to Whitman's BLB internet page, the second was specifically written and illustrated to fit the BLB size requirements.)
Both books measured 432 pages, but when you consider the size of type and the heavy use of whte space and illustrations, each book shrinks down to about an hour's reading time. One sentence paragraphs. Little description. Huge leaps from scene to scene. And why give the neer-do-wells motivation?
The plot is simple. In the previous book, 1935's Tom Swift and His Planet Stone (written by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams), Tom investigated a large meteor that had landed in a jungle land. Tom had the recovered a part of the meteor and brought it to his lab. Now Tom has extracted a material from the meteor which is either an unknown compound or an unknown element (toss a coin, take your pick). With this material he has devised a new type of powerful lens. Tom arranged to have the meteor shipped to him so he can get enough material to make a much larger lens. Tom, you see, has hypothesized that the meteor was sent by intelligent beings from Mars. With a larger lens, he can direct the telescope to Mars and prove his theory. Alas, the ship carrying the meteor encountered a bad storm and had to jettison the cargo at sea. Plucky Tom races to where he has determined the meteor was dumped in order to raise it (and rescuing two divers from a giant fish at the same time).
Meanwhile, two neer-do-wells (remember them?) steal Tom's formula for the powerful lens. All
ends well and Tom discovers an advanced Martian civilization although neither he (nor the sereis) does anything with the discovery,
Let me admit than I am a fan of the original Tom Swift series. I've read about twenty of them and found them all to have a charming innocence and innovation that is appealing. (I gloss over the inherent racism and xenophobia that is prevelent in books of that time.) The move to Better Little Books, however, sucked the life out of the series.
If I had my druthers, the original series would have ended at 38 books, rather than 40.