Auctus Publishers

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Author(s): Frances Schoonmaker
Illustrator(s): Frances Schoonmaker
ISBN-13: 978-0-9979607-4-7
Release Date: March 3, 2018
Category: Middle Grade

The Black Alabaster Box

The Last Crystal Trilogy, Book 1

Synopsis:

It had been quiet along the Santa Fe Trail for more than a year when the Stokes Company set out for California, the Willis family among them. A reluctant traveler, young Grace Willis longs for her fortunate, safe, and comfortable life at home. Just as she is learning to negotiate life in a wagon-train, Grace is kidnapped by fellow travellers and taken into Oklahoma Territory. She must decide if she will cave in to despair or muster the courage to run away and search for her parents. Grace finds help in unlikely places. She discovers that there really is such a thing as magic, and there are some things only a child can do.

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Jena Page said on 11/18/2018:
Francis, What a predicament Grace has found herself in! I'm adding this book to my reading list. Thanks, Jena!
linda Vigen Phillips said on 10/25/2018:
Sounds intriguing!

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My great grandpa and grandma were pioneers who lived in a dugout in Western Oklahoma until their first house was built. One summer our family went looking for the dugout site, not expecting to find it. But we did. We could see two of the walls. We even found the old wagon tracks leading up to the dugout.  






It had been quiet along the Santa Fe Trail for more than a year when the Stokes Company set out for California, the Willis family among them. A reluctant traveler, young Grace Willis longs for her fortunate, safe, and comfortable life at home. Just as she is learning to negotiate life in a wagon-train, Grace is kidnapped by fellow travellers and taken into Oklahoma Territory. She must decide if she will cave in to despair or muster the courage to run away and search for her parents. Grace finds help in unlikely places. She discovers that there really is such a thing as magic, and there are some things only a child can do.

I had never seen my son read a book so fast or get so moved by a story. Just read it yesterday and didn’t want it to end. What a gift of genius it is! Beautifully written. Looking forward to the other two books in the trilogy already. I highly recommend it to anyone with kids or to any adult looking for a really good and mysterious adventure in magic and historical fiction. Sarah Davis, Amazon

 

Frances Schoonmaker was reared on a farm in western Oklahoma, not far from where The Black Alabaster Box takes place. She taught elementary school for a dozen years before becoming director of the graduate program in elementary and middle school education at Teachers College, Columbia University, a program that drew heavily on literature and story telling. Early in her career at Teachers College, she was selected by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation to write Growing Up Teaching: Values And Decision Making, a textbook for middle school children. Before retirement, she mentored doctoral students interested in children’s spirituality through a seminar on children’s literature and spirituality, funded by a grant from the Spencer Foundation. Schoonmaker compiled and edited five books in the Sterling Press Poetry for Young People series.

fgschoonmaker@gmail.com

Schoonmaker has put a great deal of attention into historical context and scholarship about the Great Westward Migration. Plus, the books are infused with exciting magical elements that kids adore. Courtney McGee, The Baltimore Sun, Towson edition (Wednesday, April 25, 2018, p.21). http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/ph-tt-mcgee-column-0425-story.html#share=email~story

 

I have now read this beautiful book twice - once on my own and once with my teenage son. As I first started reading it, I thought I was re-living my childhood read of Little House on the Prairie, but I very soon realized this was a much more creative, thoughtful and magical story filled with wonder. The blending of historical fiction with fantasy is a brilliant brew. … The historical issues are all here - racism (both towards Native Americans and African-Americans), western expansion, and even the environmental degradation that follows as a result. But this is subtle rather than "preachy" - the sign of a good storyteller. My son and I are looking forward to the second installment of this wonderful story, as we both finished the last page wanting to know what happens next. Kimberly Younce SchooleySecondary School Teacher at Bishop Mackenzie International School, Lilongwe, Malawi, Amazon 

 

An endearing story that's easily accessible to younger readers with straightforward language that doesn't talk down to them, yet is still enjoyable for older readers. . .while also containing elements of magic and lore to provide fodder for the reader's imagination and develop the narrative into something greater. Jen, Goodreads 


Author Frances Schoonmaker threads postmodern themes into historical fiction set in Oklahoma during the Great Western Migration. . . . Schoonmaker knows our children live in dangerous times, surrounded by painful news and media images that cause them to doubt the existence of security or the existence of a sure and just path forward. In short, they are on a journey much like Grace's. Perhaps, they too need to think about the sage advice of Grace's mother: “You are going to have to decide if you are a part of this and ready to accept an adventure, or if you’re going to cling to your misery and lock out the world." Dr. Monte Joffee, founder and former Principal of The Renaissance Charter School, Jackson Heights, New York City Public Schools

My great grandpa and grandma were pioneers who lived in a dugout in Western Oklahoma until their first house was built. One summer our family went looking for the dugout site, not expecting to find it. But we did. We could see two of the walls. We even found the old wagon tracks leading up to the dugout.  

    Guestbook Comments
    Jena Page said on November 18, 2018:
    Francis, What a predicament Grace has found herself in! I'm adding this book to my reading list. Thanks, Jena!

    linda Vigen Phillips said on October 25, 2018:
    Sounds intriguing!

    End of Comments
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