Staff book recommendation: Blood and Thunder and The Good Lord Bird

Recommended by Erik Wilker, Director, Administrative and Strategic Affairs

So tell us, what should we be reading?


Erik Wilker

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides

Hampton Sides tells beautiful stories that never suffer for the limit of being true.  In Blood and Thunder, he narrates the life and times of Kit Carson, and the reader gets to ride along into unfolding panoramas of historical rift. Under the narrative spell of this book you find yourself vastly entertained and effortlessly knowledgeable about many things: the affairs of trappers, scouts, raiders, soldiers and settlers; Spanish and American colonialism; the rise of North American horse culture; the breaking of the Navajo Nation, the failed reservation system and the Pueblo revolts (to name but a few). This is a book I want to re-read every time I recommend it to others (often).

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

In this historical novel, James McBride daringly delivers a lampooning caricature of John Brown, (the abolitionist terrorist who led the Potttawatomie massacre and the raid on Harpers Ferry). Somehow this treatment gives Brown more rather than less dimension as McBride develops an intimate portrait of a man who is by turns brutal and tender, righteous and flawed. And the best news for readers is that Brown isn’t the most compelling character in the book. That distinction goes to the shifty, Huck Finn-like narrator, Henry/Henrietta/Little Onion. McBride’s strong storytelling and his tuneful celebration of dialect and dialogue complete the pleasure of this great read.

About the Book Festival:

The event is coming to the Walter Jones Library on Thursday, April 30 and Friday, May 1. Started more than thirty years ago as a fall event in lower school, the Book Festival is now an all-school event for both students and parents. This year, the Parents’ Association has worked with the English department and the school librarians to merge the long-standing tradition of the book fair with the Moses Brown Poetry Initiative. Throughout the spring, upper school students have worked with both middle and lower school students to read, explore, and write poetry as a discipline that asks us to observe, decode, analyze and, ultimately, to think differently about the world around us. These months of cross-divisional work will culminate in a reading by Mark Doty, the New York Times bestselling author of nine books of poetry, and winner of the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. This reading will be held in Alumni Hall on May 1 at 7 pm and is free and open to the public. RSVP:

The book fair will be open in Walter Jones from 11:00am to 4:00pm on Thursday, April 30, and from 11:00am to 6:30pm on Friday, May 1. Books will be provided by Providence bookseller Books on the Square. There will be faculty-recommended titles for parents and students in all three divisions, as well as journals designed by Proceeds from the Book Festival will benefit the Walter Jones Library.

Full schedule:

April 30

Book Fair
Walter Jones Library, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day
School-wide, led by third grade

May 1

Book Fair
Walter Jones Library, 11 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Visiting Author/Illustrator – Tad Hills
Nursery & Pre-Primary: Pre-Primary Classroom, 8:45 – 9:15 a.m.
Kindergarten & First: Kindergarten Classroom, 9:30 – 10:15 a.m.
Second: Second-grade Classroom, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Visiting Author/Illustrator – Lucinda Landon
Third: Laura Hunt’s Classroom, 8:45 – 9:45 a.m.
Fourth & Fifth: Carolyn Garth’s Classroom, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Culmination of Cross Divisional Poetry Initiative
All-day, All Divisions
Book Festival/Poetry Cocktail Party
Walter Jones Library, 5 – 6:30 p.m.
A Path of Light and Poetry
Walter Jones Library to Alumni Hall, 6:30 – 7 p.m.
Visiting Poet – Mark Doty
Alumni Hall, 7 – 8 p.m.



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