A new J.K. Rowling fairy tale: The Ickabog

“As tall as two horses. Eyes glowing balls of fire. Long, razor-sharp claws.  The Ickabog is coming…”

Harry Potter author is back with a compelling new story on friendship and the power of hope. It’s called The Ickabog and it was released simultaneously worldwide on 10 November. Many say it is a story born during the lockdown, and some of the topics covered really seem to fit perfectly with the situation we are living right now. The truth is that The Ickabog dates back to the days of Harry Potter. 

“(It) 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 author warns us. But be careful, Rowling is also keen to stress the fact that her latest publication has nothing to do with the Hogwarts wizard, despite being conceived during the release of the films. 

The writer began to work on it between one episode and another of the saga. She thought about publishing it after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but then she preferred to take a break from children’s books and focus on two works designed for adults: The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling, published under the pen name Robert Galbraith. 

The author says: “I had the idea for The Ickabog a long time ago and read it to my two younger children chapter by chapter each night while I was working on it. However, […] I became busy with other things” and ” The Ickabog ended up in the attic”. Then came the pandemic and millions of people, including her and her children, were forced to stay home. “It was very hard on children, in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then decided to publish it” she says. 

To best entertain children and their families during lockdown, Rowling decided to publish the story online in installments, inviting all children between the ages of 7 and 12 to participate in an illustration competition. Basically, children had to read in preview the chapters and then make drawings inspired by them. The most beautiful drawings would later appear in the published book. In fact, each country has a unique edition with drawings made by the children of the country in which they live.

Even if the story is not really inspired by the period we are living in, it is still somehow related to it. Rowling has in fact decided to donate the revenues from copyright to the victims affected by coronavirus, both in England and in the rest of the world. 

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