The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley

by Lance Justin Peter Okones & illustrated by Chris Trefz


My Milwaukee
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley written by Lance Justin Peter Okones, illustrated by Christopher Trefz is a nice children's book. My kiddos at work liked the book too! I read The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley to 15 of my friends during homework time. My friends had some good in sites on the book: "It would be neat if a Realoscope was real!", "Lisa is brave.", "The characters clothes look real and Brian's sweater looks like you can touch it.", "I know what moon dust is like now."

The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley has a good balance of facts and fiction. I enjoyed being able to share a book that was very age appropriate, with no worries of words that I was uncomfortable sharing with the children in my program. I also liked that the main character were a boy and girl (it is good for children to see that boys and girls can just be friends-there tends to be teasing that they must "like" each other), I also like that there was a multicultural character and a cliff hanger!

The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley would make a great addition to your child's library. There are great illustrations and it is a great story to share!

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My Springfield
Saturday, April 2, 2011

My daughter, being the book lover that she is, is always happy when she gets new books to review. We were recently sent a copy of "The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley" written by Lance Justin Peter Okones and Illustrated by Christopher Trefz. If you are a frequent reader of my site, the name Christopher Trefz may ring a bell because he is the author and illustrator of a book I told you about last year called "Below the Waves, Timmy's Quest". My daughter will still pick Timmy's Quest from time to time and read it, she enjoys it that much.

This new 36-page book by Lance and Christopher is a great story with really colorful, interesting illustrations. Without giving too much of the story away, it takes place at Ringgold Valley Elementary School and follows two 4th graders in Mrs. Interestedinit's (love that name) Science class. The Realoscope is like a telescope, however, instead of just looking at objects far away with a normal telescope, the Realoscope actually takes you to what you are looking the case of this book, the moon. This is a fun adventure-type book with a science fiction twist.

I can definitely see "The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley" become a series, because the possibilities of where the Realoscope will take the kids is basically endless...or at least as far as the author and illustrator's imaginations will take them. My husband told me that after reading this book to our daughter, he immediately starting thinking of another book series that started with "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and thought that this series could really lead to more fun adventures and interesting discoveries, just like in that series of books.

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Sigourney News-Review
Wed, Mar 04, 2009

Sigourney resident, Lance Justin Peter Okones has released his first children's book published under the Orchard House Press label entitled, The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley, Book One. This is the first of a series with the second ready for an early March release date. Watch for Bumper Cars in the Kuiper Belt by Lance Justin Peter Okones coming soon.
Book One Snippet:

The big science fair at Ringgold Valley Elementary school is just one day away and Lisa and Brian need moon dust for their exhibit! Where do you find moon dust? On the moon of course. How do fourth graders get to the moon? Simple, all you need is a Realoscope! Lisa and Brian will never be the same. Join them as they make the grade and are transported into a world of amazing adventure and friendship.

According to Okones, the series revolves around the adventures of Lisa, Brian, Deedle and the 'Realoscope'. While this is a fictional story, there is some realistic features at work behind the scenes. "Yes, it's true, I've taken the fiction story and interjected a bit of truth to it," He said. For example: Deedle is from Charon, which is actually a large moon of Pluto (see inset box). Okones confirmed learning and the promotion of education are intricate parts of his books.

The title, The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley, derives from two inspirations for Okones. The first of which, is a feeling he used to get when he was riding the school bus home on a Friday afternoon or the pre-excitement he felt as a youngster arriving at a friends' home to spend the night. "I know you know the feeling," said Okones. "The whole weekend stretches before you; two days to entertain yourself, staying up a bit longer. Hanging out with your friends."

The second is Ringgold Street in Sigourney. Okones was a newspaper delivery boy in his youth; he delivered newspapers up and down Ringgold Street. "In fact, when I first began work on the 'Realoscope of Ringgold Valley' the working title was 'The Friday Night Science Club', which evolved into 'The Magic Telescope of...something', said Okones. Then shift came to the current title in roughly two hours. "It (Ringgold) just fit," He added.

According to Okones, it's either inspiration or techniques for story ideas. "I use a few different techniques, but the best source for stories is...yourself." He said. "Inside of your memory is a vast, deep ocean of untold stories. Seemingly little things that become family folklore."

Okones likes to tackle the writing process from the comforts of home, "I usually write in the evening and on weekends, as I still have a full-time job." Just recently, he discovered a new cubby for an office out of the main stream of household traffic - the master bedroom, "We have an old, out of date computer, that hums loudly when it runs, but I'm more familiar with the operating system and there's a nice, soft, comfortable chair by it."

The process from idea to the signed publishing contract took Okones approximately a total of 14 months, "It only took me about a week to write it (The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley)." He is eagerly awaiting a physical copy of the book. Equally interested readers may take a sneak peak at Okones' The Realoscope of Ringgold Valley at or reserve a copy of his newest book, not even in print yet, Bumper Cars in the Kuiper Belt.

A college course sparked Okones's interest in children's books. "To satisfy a Language Arts requirement, I took a children's literature course and really enjoyed reading the books. I also loved reading the books to my children (when they were younger) and now my grandchildren," Okones added.
— Sigourney News-Review

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