On Tuesday (26 May), the Harry Potter author surprised fans with the announcement that she would be uploading her latest story online for free as a means of keeping children entertained during coronavirus lockdown.
Here’s everything you need to know about The Ickabog:
What is The Ickabog about?
Described as “a stand-alone fairy tale”, The Ickabog is Rowling’s first children’s book not to take place in the Harry Potter universe.
Set in a kingdom ruled by King Fred the Fearless, the story is focussed on a mythical monster called The Ickabog that is rumoured to eat children.
Back in 2007, Rowling referred to the story as a “political fairytale”, but recently clarified: “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.”
Where can I read The Ickabog?
During lockdown, Rowling’s fans can read her latest book for free over on The Ickabog website.
The first two chapters were released on 26 May, with the entire book eventually being uploaded. It will then be published as a physical book in November 2020, with an illustration competition running alongside, allowing children to feature in the book. Rowling’s royalties will be given to people affected by the coronavirus.
How often chapters are being released?
New chapters of The Ickabog will be released at 3pm daily over on the official website, in instalments of one to three chapters at a time until 10 July.
Speaking about the decision to release chapters in small chunks, Rowling said: “I’ve decided to publish The Ickabog for free online, so children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them.
“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).”
When did JK Rowling write The Ickabog?
Rowling explained in a Twitter thread that she wrote the book over 10 years ago to read to her children and had meant to release it after the end of Harry Potter in 2007, but found it took a backseat in order to write her books for adults.
The author said that over the last few years she’d slightly rewritten parts of the story based on her children’s recommendations.
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