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J.K. Rowling Introduces ‘The Ickabog’

The Harry Potter author releases the new fantasy story for charity. The whimsical fairy tale “about truth and the abuse of power” will be available for free online for children (and children at heart!) in lockdown.

J.K. Rowling is to publish a new children’s fantasy book, ‘The Ickabog,’ a fairytale about “truth and the abuse of power."

Set in an imaginary land unrelated to any of Rowling’s other works, ‘The Ickabog’ will be serialized online starting Tuesday, May 26, at 3:00 pm in 34 daily installments. It will then be published as a book, ebook, and audiobook come November, with Rowling’s royalties going to projects assisting groups most affected by the pandemic.

‘The Ickabog’ was kept in Rowling’s attic for years, and up to a few weeks ago, had been a story that belonged to her two younger children. “I’d read it to them in the evenings when they were little, which has always been a happy family memory, she said. ‘The Ickabog’ came to her as an idea while she was still writing Harry Potter, writing most of a first draft in “fits and starts” between Potter books, intending to publish it after 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. As we know, Rowling took a break from publishing, a break that effectively lasted five years. In that time, she wrote 'The Casual Vacancy', and in a period of indecision, she decided to step away from children’s books. She then stored ‘The Ickabog’ up in her attic, where it stayed for nearly a decade.

The idea behind 'The Ickabog' came to her over a decade ago and is not intended to be read as a direct response to anything that is happening in the world right now. The author writes in her website: “The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”

The idea of publishing the book online for free for children in lockdown came to Rowling a few weeks ago, and she tentatively raised the idea to her now teenagers. They received it warmly and were enthusiastic, and that was that. Rowling found herself entering “a fictional world she never thought she’d enter again.”

“I think ‘The Ickabog’ lends itself well to serialization, because it was written as a read-aloud book (unconsciously shaped, I think, by the way I read it to my own children), but it’s suitable for seven to nine-year-olds to read to themselves,” the author writes in her website.

Check out the preview of the first installment of 'The Ickabog' below:

The author is also asking children to send in illustrations for each chapter, choosing the best and most suitable to be included in the print editions of ‘The Ickabog’ in November. “I want to see imaginations run wild! Creativity, inventiveness, and effort are the most important things,” she wrote.

You can read the first installment, and all succeeding installments, at ‘The Ickabog’ website. Find out more about ‘The Ickabog’ on J.K. Rowling’s website.

Lead photo of J.K. Rowling by Debra Hurford Brown. Artwork of ‘The Ickabog’ from J.K. Rowling’s official website.