THE LAST CRYSTAL TRILOGY, BOOK 1
BY FRANCES SCHOONMAKER
Westward ho! It had been quiet along the Santa Fe Trail for more than a year when the Stokes Company set out for California in the early 1840s, the Willis family among them. A reluctant traveler, twelve-year-old Grace Willis longs for her comfortable, safe, and privileged life at home. Just as she is learning to negotiate life on the trail, Grace is kidnapped by fellow travelers 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.
The Black Alabaster Box is an historical fantasy about growing up and facing terrible circumstances without being overcome by them. Grace learns to face her fears with courage, and that even magic can’t rescue her from the consequences of her choices. Written for middle grade children, the book is one the whole family can enjoy together. Grace’s experiences can provide a springboard for talking about grief and loss as well as the wonderful, funny, and magical adventures life has to offer. The setting and attention to historical accuracy make it an ideal read-aloud for the schoolroom where children are studying the great migration West.