The Wicked and the Just goes to school!

As a teacher and librarian, I’m always looking for books to put into the hands of students and teachers. I love it when a book does double (or triple duty). For example, a single book might:

1. Spark debates from different characters’ points of view, especially when those characters come from different cultures, lands, and economic classes.

2. Connect to an area of the curriculum outside of English class, such as, oh, I don’t know–a period of  history that a kid has never explored, like the year 1293 during the height of the conflict between the English and the Welsh! Said topic could lead seamlessly to discussions of past and present oppression of one people by another and the subsequent rebellion that ensues. Got that? Quiz tomorrow–be ready.

3. And here’s my favorite: Turn a meh reader into an I-can’t-put-this-book-down reader.

But don’t take it from me. Or Kirkus and Hornbook and who bestowed starred reviews on The Wicked and the Just. Here’s what J. Anderson Coats had to say about using The Wicked and the Just with kids in the classroom…

The Wicked (a.k.a. Natalie): A student walks into my library and I think, “That kid needs a copy of The Wicked and the Just.” Who is this kid?

The Just (a.k.a. J. Anderson Coats): They’ll be your voracious readers.  The ones who take in words through every pore.  The ones who have a high tolerance for ambiguity and don’t mind a challenge.  They might be the kids who’ve read everything by Karen Cushman, Michael Cadnum, and Catherine Jinks twice, but they’re not quite ready for Sharon Kay Penman or Elizabeth Chadwick.  They might be kids who are developing an interest in the past through works of historical fantasy like A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray or THE MINISTER’S DAUGHTER by Julie Hearn.  But they also might be the kids who care deeply about social justice and the lived experiences of oppression and redemption, possibly through an interest in dystopian literature.

The Wicked (a.k.a. Natalie): Although The Wicked and the Just is a work of fiction, historical facts are woven throughout the story. How did research factor into your writing process?

The Just (a.k.a. J. Anderson Coats): My process is heavily dependent on immersing myself in books and articles and images while I’m writing.  I can’t do a bunch of research, then write a draft.  I’m the kind of geek that does research for fun, and the constant stream of material informs not only the story, but also how I structure the words on the page.  Only about 1% of the stuff that comes out of my research ever makes it into the story explicitly, but all of it is important to get me into the proper headspace to recreate the world as best I can.

The Wicked (a.k.a. Natalie): Where can teachers, librarians and students learn more about you and your book?

The Just (a.k.a. J. Anderson Coats):


Twitter: @jandersoncoats

The Wicked (a.k.a. Natalie): Thanks, J.!

For those Kindergarten and preschool teachers out there, don’t despair! Click here for Mike Jung’s G-rated rendition of The Wicked and the Just  for the 6-and-under set.

Happy reading, everyone!


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Education, Happiness, Interviews

11 responses to “The Wicked and the Just goes to school!

  1. Thanks to you both, Natalie and J.! I really loved reading this inteview–and I must admit that it made me miss teaching!

    NO DOUBT that THE WICKED AND THE JUST will do great things in the kid-lit world–in fact, it already has! Congrat’s, j.!


  2. J. Anderson Coats

    Classroom activity: make cardboard weapons and have stuffed toys whack each other with them. Extra credit if someone’s stuffing comes out!


    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      This sounds like an indoor recess activity, J. 😉 I do think we need to add a cardboard castle and walls. What time should I come over??


  3. Love, love, love this book. I want every high school to get a library copy and a class set.


  4. Mike Jung

    I think one mark of the brilliance of THE WICKED AND THE JUST is that it feels very, very informative about the slice of history it depicts, but at the same time it feels utterly gripping and psychologically relevant to everyone, regardless of calendar year. The use of language doesn’t feel watered down, but is rhythmic, gorgeous, and compelling; there’s a multitude of fascinating details about clothing, food, commerce, military action, social mores, and more; the tragedy and injustice suffered by many of the characters rings painfully true; and every emotional peak and valley feels hard-won and fully rooted in hearts and minds of the characters. It doesn’t intellectually compromise in any way, to any degree, but it also delivers a sophisticated and multifaceted emotional experience. THE WICKED AND THE JUST is a remarkable literary achievement, and all the kids who get to study it in class should count their lucky stars.


  5. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Wow. Mike, you’ve earned an A+ on that analysis. Have you ever thought of becoming a writer?? 😉


  6. I have to wonder if J was looking at a picture of me while she was describing that reader in her first answer. I might add that a book like this is perfect for the reader that thinks history is dry and boring, or that it is the study of Dead White Men. I think this book has a lot to offer readers as it opens their mind to the amazing things they can learn about the past. It may just turn a few people into the kind of geek that does research for fun!


  7. Pingback: Promotion Post-Mortem | EMU's Debuts

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