The first thing J.K. Rowling wants you to know about her latest work is that it’s “NOT A HARRY POTTER SPINOFF.” Instead it’s a standalone fairytale called The Ickabog. Rowling started writing The Ickabog over 10 years ago, before filing it away in her attic and concentrating on other projects. The only people to ever hear the story were her children to whom she read it aloud. Now, Rowling has decided the world is finally ready to meet the Ickabog.
Looking for more quarantine reading recommendations? Check out our roundup of The Best Kids Books to Read During the Coronavirus Quarantine!
Where to Read J.K. Rowling’s The Ickabog?
Rowling is publishing the fairytale online for free “so children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them,” she says. She’ll be posting a new chapter (or two or three) every day until July 10th. The first two chapters are available here. They introduce readers to King Fred the Fearless, a monarch with curly blonde hair (who looks “magnificent in his tight breeches”), and the Ickabog himself, a mysterious monster who lives in the marsh. Rowling says the book is designed to be read aloud but is also suitable for 7- to 9-year-olds to read themselves.
The Ickabog Illustration Competition
J.K. Rowling is inviting kids all over the world to illustrate The Ickabog. Every day when Rowling posts new chapters, she’ll be including ideas for potential illustrations. But, she says, “Nobody should feel constrained by these ideas. I want to see imaginations run wild!” If you’re between the ages of 7-12, your parents can also enter your work in the official Ickabog Illustration Competition. A select few works will be included in the print version of The Ickabog, set to be published in November. Rowling says, “Creativity, inventiveness and effort are the most important things: we aren’t necessarily looking for the most technical skill!” If you’re not eligible to enter the competition, your parents can still post your artwork on Twitter with the hashtag #TheIckabog. (J.K. Rowling may retweet and comment!)
Rowling says The Ickabog is “a story about truth and the abuse of power.” Although she wrote it over ten years ago, she says, “The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.” She plans to donate all her author royalties from the book to COVID-19 relief funds.