JK Rowling publishes first chapters of new story ‘The Ickabog’ online

Carla Harmon
May 29, 2020

J.K. Rowling is helping out parents at home.

On her website, Rowling said she meant to publish "The Ickabog" after the final "Harry Potter" book had been published, but chose to take a break from publishing.

The "Harry Potter" author said Tuesday she wrote the fairy tale for her children as a bedtime story over a decade ago. But a few weeks ago, she came up with the idea of publishing the story for free for children in lockdown. Over time I came to think of it as a story that belonged to my two younger children, because I'd read it to them in the evenings when they were little, which has always been a happy family memory.

In typical Rowling style, it ain't a pamphlet.

The book, which was initially referred to as an unnamed "political fairytale" by Rowling, will be published until July 10 on the Ickabog website. Instead, Rowling's new releases were adult fiction, starting with 2012's The Casual Vacancy and four Cormoran Strike mysteries published under a pseudonym. This is a tale she wrote for her own family over 10 years ago, and because of the worldwide pandemic she has made a decision to share it with children, parents, and caregivers during lockdown.

However, the idea for The Ickabog did first come to her while she was writing Harry Potter.

Rowling said she read the story aloud to her children during the writing process, and believes this makes it a good story for serialization. She notes after the series wrapped, she took a break from publishing and left the book unfinished. But, Rowling chose to revisit The Ickabog during the pandemic, saying that "for the last few weeks I've been immersed in a fictional world I thought I'd never enter again". Rowling and Scholastic created an illustration competition open to children ages 7-12 that's completely free to enter. Fans have been reassured that the website where the book will be available will not require registration.

"I'll be giving suggestions as to what to draw as we go along, but you should let your imagination run wild".

The story will then be published as a book, an ebook and an audiobook in November.

'As individual publishers will know best which illustrations work in their editions, I won't be personally judging this competition'. "We'll give full details later in the year", Rowling added.

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