The Black Alabaster Box, Frances Schoonmaker
Auctus Publishing (Philadelphia), March 1, 2018, 216 pages
ISBN-10: 0997960744 (hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0997960747 (paperback)
ASIN: B07B6FRBYQ (Kindle edition)
Subjects: Middle Grade Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Frontier and Pioneer Life, Covered Wagons, Santa Fe Trail Life, Alabaster Caverns, Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Great Westward Migration
Frances Schoonmaker is uniquely positioned to write an historical fantasy for eight- to thirteen-year-olds. An elementary school teacher for a dozen years, she directed the graduate program in elementary and middle school education at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has a keen understanding of children and their social, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional needs. Her research focused on history of school supervision, curriculum, and teaching. She was invited by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation to write Growing Up Caring: Exploring Values And Decision Making (Glencoe/Macmillan, 1992), the first textbook of its kind for middle school children. In addition to directing the teacher preparation program, she mentored doctoral students in the college’s collaborative program with Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Funded by a grant from the Spencer Foundation, she led a doctoral research seminar on spirituality and children’s literature. Schoonmaker tells the story of The Black Alabaster Box without glossing over the harsh realities of pioneer life during the Great Westward Migration in the US and without glorifying violence. While the book is an historical fantasy, the protagonist, Grace, is never bailed out by magic. She must use her own inner resources to deal with displacement and loss without giving in to despair.