Claire Rosemary Jane, Children's Author.

Chloe's Extraordinary Telescope.

This is effectively science fiction, but with a difference.

Chloe Blackthorne is a repressed little girl of nearly ten, with wealthy but strict, religious, old fashioned and over protective parents, who live as if they are at the beginning of the 20th Century, not the 21st.

One day, Chloe disobeys her parents and goes into the loft, a place to which she has been forbidden to go.  Here she finds a telescope which she discovers has the ability to show her what the future will be like, at any time between now and 4000 years ahead, but in due course she also discovers that grown ups cannot see through it in the way that she can, only seeing through it in the way that they would expect.  

For some while, Chloe manages to keep the telescope a secret, during which time she makes some amazing, and often frightening discoveries, until one day her mother catches her using the telescope, (which neither of her parents had known was in the loft), and is punished by its confiscation.  As a result she goes to pieces, for the telescope had come to mean more to her than her parents could realise at this time. 

Eventually she gets the telescope back (but not before a visit to the local doctor dramatically changes the course of events).  So Chloe is now free to use the telescope anywhere within the house or garden, and as a result of this she discovers plants that fight, and other surprising changes in the natural world. 

One day a boy of about Chloe's age sees her using the telescope in the garden.  Eventually this thoughtful, understanding but happy go lucky little boy, wins the trust of both Chloe and her parents. This little boy is Jack Belstone, from a broken home and a poor background.

Soon, the children discover that they can both see the same things through the telescope, and look at many areas together, and Jack eventually persuades Chloe's parents to allow them to use the telescope from just across the road as well as from the garden.  As a result, one day some bullies threaten to smash the telescope, but a message appears in the telescope telling Jack and Chloe to let the bullies look through it.  As a result the bullies see sights of themselves so scary that they run away in fright, and tell one of their Dads, who comes to investigate.  He of course, being a grown up, sees nothing unusual.

As time goes on, the children look further and further afield, seeing earth become almost uninhabitable, space travel become a regular event, and the building of an enormous space colony.  But they also witness the destruction of all life on earth, and the more things they witness, the more they feel a need to tell someone what is going to happen.  But what grown up will believe them?

In the end, both children end up writing really disturbing essays to the point where Chloe's parents and class teacher, and Jack's mother, are worried enough to arrange for Chloe and Jack to see an educational psychologist.  For they simply cannot believe that the children are telling the truth about what they have seen.

The psychologists arrange a test, that independently of each other Jack and Chloe would look at somewhere to which they have never been before, and describe what they see.   This had very frightening consequences, as they both witness, through the telescope, only 90 years ahead, an horrific earthquake, which geologists had predicted was possible, but unlikely in the foreseeable future. 

When all was so far ahead, the children had been able to dismiss the things that they had seen which were scary because they would be so far ahead in the future that it would not affect them, but these horrifying sights of suffering were only less that 100 years away. 

It was at this point that the telescope finally decided to teach the grown ups a lesson, and for the very first, and only time, adults saw something other than normal through it.  For the message that the adults saw, (as the very last sentence of the story) was "Why could you not believe the children when they were telling you the truth?"  The last sentence will actually be a picture, the view that the adults saw through the telescope.

This is a book written on two levels.  It deals with the adventures of the children and the many and varied things that they have seen through the telescope.  Quite a lot of the things they see are quite scary.  But also many of the things they see are very thought provoking, and the two children in the story spend quite a lot of their time together trying to puzzle over what they have seen and what is actually happening. 

But as a second level, the story challenges both children and grown ups alike to question the validity of what they see and hear and to have to decide about issues such as whether to tell the truth or to withold it,  There is also a continuing debate throughout the story as to whether something is there or not simply because it cannot be  seen. 

The story also deals with the topics of both physical and emotional suffering, cowardice, jealousy, understanding and the need for friendship.

As an additional bonus, the book also describes (within the story itself), how to set about writing an essay, deals with the joys that can be had from reading, and emphasises the advantages of doing well at school in order to do well in a career.