J.K. Rowling Surprises Children in Lockdown with a Fairy Tale to be Released for FREE

Potterheads, kids, and kids at heart are in for a treat as the author of the well-beloved book series Harry Potter J.K. Rowling is releasing a new fairytale book for kids for FREE. Yes, you read it right.

In a post on her official website today, she introduced the title of the book and how it came to fruition. According to Rowling, The Ickabog’s first drafts were written while she was still in the midst of writing the Harry Potter series and originally intended to publish after the seventh and final book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released.

Rowling’s Hiatus

Things didn’t go as planned when Rowling decided to take a hiatus from publishing and writing children’s books, which resulted in The Ickabog to be placed on the back burner, in Rowling’s case, it went up into the attic for almost ten years.

However, after the last Potter book I wanted to take a break from publishing, which ended up lasting five years. In that time I wrote The Casual Vacancy and Robert Galbraith wrote The Cuckoo’s Calling. After some dithering (and also after my long-suffering agent had trademarked The Ickabog – sorry, Neil) I decided I wanted to step away from children’s books for a while. At that point, the first draft of The Ickabog went up into the attic, where it’s remained for nearly a decade. 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.

Bringing The Ickabog back to life

The idea of bringing back The Ickabog project down from the attic and back to life came when Rowling suggested publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. With children needing distraction in this strange and difficult time, Rowling then set to revisit The Ickabog and worked to finish the children’s book.

About the Ickabog

According to the post, The Ickabog:

is a story about truth and the abuse of power.  To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.

The Ickabog’s release

The read-aloud book will be posted for FREE on The Ickabog website by chapter (or two, or three) every weekday between 26th May and 10th July on The Ickabog website.

Help Rowling Illustrate the Book

After her decision to publish the book in print sometime around November 2020, Rowling invites children currently in quarantine to help her illustrate the story through an Illustration Competition. Suggestions will be announced for the illustrations needed for each chapter, to be posted on The Ickabog website, and the best drawings will be included in the finished books. More details will follow once the website is launched.

Having decided to publish, I thought how wonderful it would be if children in lockdown, or otherwise needing distraction during the strange and difficult time we’re passing through, illustrated the story for me. There will be suggestions about the illustrations we might need for each chapter on The Ickabog website, but nobody should feel constrained by these ideas. I want to see imaginations run wild! Creativity, inventiveness and effort are the most important things: we aren’t necessarily looking for the most technical skill!

In November 2020, The Ickabog will be published in English in print, eBook and audiobook formats, shortly followed by other languages. The best drawings in each territory will be included in the finished books. As publishers in each territory will need to decide which pictures work best for their own editions, I won’t be personally judging the entries. However, if parents and guardians post their children’s drawing on Twitter using the hashtag #TheIckabog, I’ll be able to share and comment!  To find out more about the Illustration Competition, go to The Ickabog website when it launches.

Pledge for COVID-19

Rowling also announced on the same post that all author royalties for the published book will be donated to groups who have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Getting Through the Pandemic As one

In these trying times, people are turning to literature, music, and arts to ease the burden from the challenges everyone from around the globe is going through because of the pandemic. Are you excited to read The Ickabog? Let us know in the comments what you think the story is about!


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