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 fortunate, safe and comfortable life at home. Just as she is learning to negotiate life on the trail, 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.


The Alabaster Box is just the sort of book teachers long for their students to discover; it is a story full of imagination and humor and yet it is rooted in a time and place worth getting to know better. This enchanting tale set in the Old West cast a spell over my 4th and 5th grade students as we read of the exploits of the spirited pioneer girl Grace Willis, the devious Celeste and the mysterious Mr Nichols. It is a book my students, both boys and girls, just couldn’t put down.                                                             Jon Dunlap, Rivendell School, Arlington, VA