April 2018


Retired Teachers College, Columbia University Professor Publishes Adventure Story For Children

After more than two decades directing the graduate teacher preparation program for elementary and middle school teachers at Teacher’s College, Columbia University, Frances Schoonmaker has just published The Black Alabaster Boxfor middle grade and older children. “I am concerned about our cultural addiction to violence,” says Schoonmaker. “ I wanted an alternative to super heroes who depend on violence to save the planet from evil, and the ‘kill the aliens before they kill us’ motif so popular in books and movies kids. While exciting, I believe they deny children agency in dealing with their own problems. Children can get just as excited about stories that deal with the difficult realities of life without glorifying violence .” 

Reared on a farm in Oklahoma, not far from the setting for the book, Schoonmaker enjoyed stories about her pioneer ancestors. Her maternal grandfather participated in the Witchita-Caddo Land Drawing in Oklahoma Territory in 1901. “My mother was born in a dugout on that land,” Schoonmaker says. Books about pioneers and those that create imaginative worlds were childhood favorites. In The Black Alabaster Box she makes room for fact and fancy. But the protagonist is never rescued by magic. She must decide whether to cave in to despair when circumstances are grim or to take action to change things. 

Released in March by Auctus Publishers, Philadelphia, The Black Alabaster Box, is Book 1 in THE LAST CRYSTAL TRILOGY.Kidnapped by fellow travellers on the Santa Fe Trail, young Grace Willis escapes, finding help in unlikely places, discovering that there really is such a thing as magic, and there are some things only a child can do. The book will appeal to children interested in the Great Westward Migration in the US, Frontier and Pioneer life, and adventure with a bit of magic thrown into the mix.           

The book is available on-line internationally through the following: Book Depository, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound, and Powells in hardcover, paperback and electronic formats as well as iTunes: iBook App. Materials for media use may be downloaded from the author’s website at https://fschoonmaker.com