JK Rowling announces new children's book, The Ickabog, to be published free online

About This Event

Harry Potter author announces she will serialise the fairy tale from Tuesday afternoon, so children in lockdown can read it for free before it is published in November

 

JK Rowling is to publish a new children’s book, a fairy tale “about truth and the abuse of power” that she has kept in her attic for years, for free online for children in lockdown.

 

The Ickabog, which is set in an imaginary land unrelated to any of Rowling’s other works, will be serialised online from Tuesday afternoon, in 34 daily, free instalments. It will then be published as a book, ebook and audiobook in November, with Rowling’s royalties to go to projects assisting groups impacted by the pandemic.

 

Rowling described The Ickabog as “a story about truth and the abuse of power”. It came to her “well over a decade ago”, so she stressed that 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,” stressed Rowling, who has been critical in recent days of the UK government’s response to the Dominic Cummings crisis. On Monday, she wrote of Cummings’ reasoning for his contentious trip to Durham: “Your wife was ill, you thought you were infectious and you’ve got a kid. Those circumstances are not exceptional. They’re commonplace.”

 

Rowling has alluded to the story in the past, describing it in 2009 as a “political fairytale ... for slightly younger children” that she was then working on.

 

On Tuesday, the novelist said she wrote The Ickabog “in fits and starts” in between the Potter books, and initially planned to publish it after the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Instead, she went on to write adult novels including The Casual Vacancy, and The Cuckoo’s Calling under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. She said she decided to “step away from children’s books for a while”, and kept the first draft of The Ickabog in her attic.

 

On Tuesday, Rowling said that “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”. But a few weeks ago, she came up with the idea of publishing the story for free for children in lockdown. Her teenage children “were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again”.

 

“As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed),” she wrote on her website. “I think The Ickabog lends itself well to serialisation 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.”

 

Advertisement

 

Rowling is asking children to send in illustrations for each chapter, with the best to be included in the print editions of the story in November. “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,” she wrote.

 

News is under threat ...

… just when we need it the most. Millions of readers around the world are flocking to the Guardian in search of honest, authoritative, fact-based reporting that can help them understand the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetime. But at this crucial moment, news organisations are facing an unprecedented existential challenge. As businesses everywhere feel the pinch, the advertising revenue that has long helped sustain our journalism continues to plummet. We need your help to fill the gap.

 

We believe every one of us deserves equal access to quality news and measured explanation. So, unlike many others, we made a different choice: to keep Guardian journalism open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. This would not be possible without financial contributions from our readers, who now support our work from 180 countries around the world.

 

We have upheld our editorial independence in the face of the disintegration of traditional media – with social platforms giving rise to misinformation, the seemingly unstoppable rise of big tech and independent voices being squashed by commercial ownership. The Guardian’s independence means we can set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Our journalism is free from commercial and political bias – never influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This makes us different. It means we can challenge the powerful without fear and give a voice to those less heard.

 

Reader financial support has meant we can keep investigating, disentangling and interrogating. It has protected our independence, which has never been so critical. We are so grateful.

 

We need your support so we can keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. And that is here for the long term. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support the Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

Copyright © 2020 related marks are registered trademarks of Boredom Solved.