Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

"In one golden moment I saw me a sunbow. I called it a sunbow because it looked just exactly like all the colors of the rainbow, but there's no rain anywhere for miles. The sky got so clear, I thought I could see the whole trail in an instant—saying good bye to Caroline and Aunt Florence giving me the honey jar, Eliza and Louisa picking flowers, Mr. St. Clair sketching buffalo, the view from the bluffs at Council Grove, shooting stars and all."
Florrie Mack Ryder[2]

All the Stars in the Sky: The Santa Fe Trail Diary of Florrie Mack Ryder is a historical fiction book written by Megan McDonald. It is her only book for Scholastic's Dear America and the thirty-third book in the series overall. The book was published in September 2003 and was followed by Look to the Hills.

Twelve-year-old Florrie Mack Ryder and her family depart their home in Missouri to head west on the Santa Fe Trail.


"For Regina Shipman Haynes"

Book description[]

"Camp No.12
Mother and I were bent over the cooking fire... when Jem called out to us. We turned our eyes to heaven and saw a magnificent rainbow. The sky was nearly on fire with the colors.
Jem asked Mother, "Is it true there's a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? I'd like to think I could climb that hill and discover a pot of riches there."
"Alas, the end of the rainbow is always much farther away than it seems," Mother told him. I daresay my own mother is beginning to sound like the fortune-teller.
"I think the end of the rainbow must be all the way in California," said Jem, "and I aim to find it someday."
Mother laughed. Her laugh... was as welcome as a change of clothes on the prairie.
The trail, like a rainbow, leads us west. And west. And westward still.


Twelve-year-old Florence "Florrie" Mack Ryder prepares for her family's journey across the Santa Fe Trail. A couple years prior, her father was killed in battle during the Mexican War. Her mother has since been remarried to Mr. Ryder and is now expecting a baby. Florrie's younger brother Jem has already accepted their new stepfather, but Florrie still has mixed feelings about him. The family leaves Arrow Rock, Missouri in early June 1848. As a parting gift, her aunt and namesake Florence gives her a jar of honey which Florrie carefully hides. The Ryders make their way to Independence. Mr. Ryder, a trader whom regularly travels the Santa Fe Trail, puts together a wagon train with his old friend Frenchie.

On the trail, Florrie meets the artist Mr. St. Clair and starts sketching with his encouragement. She later befriends sisters Louisa and Eliza Nutting whom are fourteen and ten-years-old, respectively. The girls get on well, exploring the trail and even going to see a so-called fortune-teller. Florrie and Eliza quarrel when she accuses the latter of reading her diary. Several days later, Eliza goes missing for two days. The Ryders' dog Mr. Biscuit is the one who finds her and alerts the search party. Florrie quickly makes up with Eliza, feeling elated that her friend is now safe and sound. Over the next several days, life on the trail slowly becomes harder as the oxen start dying from thirst.

In early July, everyone is shocked when Mr. St. Clair passes away after his tent catches fire. Florrie is devastated and finds it hard to sketch for a while. Shortly later, her mother falls ill. Mr. Ryder seeks out a doctor, but misses him. He then decides that the wagon train will head directly for Bent's Fort. In the meantime, Florrie says goodbye to Louisa and Eliza whose family are heading to California instead of New Mexico. Florrie acclimates to life at the fort and befriends many new people whom live there, including Manny Rodriguez, Muldoon, and Letty. She also befriends a Cheyenne girl, Mo'e'ha. After a few days, Mo'e'ha brings Florrie to her home and helps her get medicine for her mother.

Mrs. Ryder's health gradually worsens, causing her to have her baby too early. The baby dies and Mrs. Ryder names her Missouri before burial. Mr. Ryder decides to take the wagon train on to Santa Fe and leaves his wife behind to recover. In Santa Fe, Florrie and Jem are left in the care of his business partner Carlos Villarreal and his wife Lupe. Florrie becomes suspicious of Mr. Ryder's behavior before he leaves, but Lupe later reveals that he bought the family a house. She and Jem clean up the home a bit before Mr. Ryder returns with their mother, which takes over a month. The delay turns out to be a baby whom the Ryders decide to adopt since here parents have died. They name her Cimmaron.


Bent's Fort burned down on August 21, 1849. Florrie was sad to receive the news and would remember her time there fondly. In 1858, she married a ranchero named Ricardo José Alma, whom was a frequent customer at the general store. The same year, gold was discovered in Colorado. Thinking of Muldoon's tales, Florrie and her husband went there to strike it rich. Florrie and Ricardo decided to settle there and built a ranch, where they would go on to raise their five children. Jem accompanied his sister to the gold fields as a carpenter. When the Civil War started, he enlisted with the 2nd Colorado Infantry. During the Battle of Glorieta Pass, Jem was a medic when he met his future wife, Ellen.

In 1857, Eliza came to Santa Fe as a teacher and became known for her "lively storytelling." She kept a book for each of her students to write a verse every year. Her favorite was written by Cimarron Ryder. One day in Denver, Florrie came across a playbill advertising a violin concert for Louisa, now Louisa Nutting Edwards. She stayed for the concert. Louisa still had with her Florrie's parting gift, an old patchwork. Florrie later published a book of sketches which she dedicated to Mr. St. Clair. She died at her Colorado Springs home at the age of seventy.

Historical Note[]

The Santa Fe Trail was primarily a trade route, unlike the other trails at the time. In 1821, when Mexico gained its independence from Spain, American trader William Becknell headed to Santa Fe and quickly sold everything he had. Becknell returned home with news that Mexico was now open to outsiders. He later "blazed" a shortcut, the Cimarron Cutoff, which saved one hundred miles but was a "long, waterless stretch of desert." American traders soon began pouring into Santa Fe. The wagons often traveled in groups for safety. Susan Magoffin, travelling with her husband, became one of the first women on the trail. She kept a diary, writing a detailed account of life on the trail.

Bent's Fort was a popular stop along the trail, being a trading post for all kinds of people. The Bent brothers worked hard at keeping good relationships with the Native Americans. The peace did not last long and Charles Bent was killed during the Taos Revolt of 1847. Two years later, the fort was mysteriously blown up. After New Mexico became an United States territory, travel on the Santa Fe Trail increased and more women and families began to come. Travel peaked in 1866, but soon waned due to the railroad being built. In 1880, the first train came to Santa Fe which marked the "end of an era." Seven photos and illustrations conclude the section, along with a map of the United States marking spots from the story.


Main article: List of All the Stars in the Sky characters
  • Florence "Florrie" Mack Ryder is a twelve-year-old travelling on the Santa Fe Trail with her family. At the same time, she has to adjust to having a new stepfather.
  • Jem Mack Ryder, the younger brother of Florrie who lives for adventure and often finds himself in dangerous situations. Unlike his sister, he easily takes to their new stepfather.


Main article: Megan McDonald

Megan McDonald is an American children's author. She is best known for her Judy Moody series and writing the books for the American Girl character Julie Albright. All the Stars in the Sky is the only book she contributed to Dear America. In college, McDonald got a summer job working at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, a prominent location in the book. Her own experiences and the diary of Susan Magoffin served as inspiration for All the Stars in the Sky.


"Many, many thanks go to historian (and sister) Melissa McDonald; expert librarian and reader Carol Edwards; Mary Ellen Grant of Olathe, Kansas; Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site in La Junta, Colorado; the Santa Fe Trail Center, Larned, Kansas; Nancy Brown at the Center for Southwest Research, Zimmerman Library, Albuquerque, New Mexico; the Kansas State Historical Society; the Governor Bent House and Museum, Taos, New Mexico; the Kit Carson Home and Museum, Taos, New Mexico. I'm also indebted to historian Marc Simmons's seminal research on women of the Santa Fe Trail."


  • The portrait on the cover is a detail from the 1894 painting At the Start of the Day by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. The background is a detail of an engraving licensed from Culver Pictures.[3][4]
  • The book was originally titled All the Beds in Heaven but was changed to its current title by Scholastic.[5]
  • Mr. St. Clair was modeled after the real-life artist John Mix Stanley.[5]


See also[]

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

Dear America navigation
← Publication →
Love Thy Neighbor Look to the Hills
← Chronology →
So Far from Home Seeds of Hope

External links[]