J.K. Rowling will always be best known for her incredibly successful “Harry Potter” series of books, but this week she announced that she’s been working on an exciting new project — and she’s sharing it with the world for free.
Her standalone children’s fairytale book, “The Ickabog,” is being released online, chapter by chapter. The first two chapters went live on the book’s official website on May 26, and one or more chapters will appear every weekday until July 10.
“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,” Rowling wrote on The Ickabog website. “However, when the time came to publish it, I decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how ‘The Ickabog’ ended up in the attic. I became busy with other things, and even though I loved the story, over the years I came to think of it as something that was just for my own children.”
But she went on to say that she returned to the book during the pandemic, writing, “It’s been 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 read it to my children again. They told me to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!”
According to Rowling, “The Ickabog” is suitable for kids aged 7-9 to read to themselves or for parents to read to younger children while in lockdown (or following other social-distancing guidelines). But let’s face it, every “Harry Potter” fan is going to want to read it, however old they are.
Here’s her tweet announcing the availability of the first chapters:
The first two chapters of The Ickabog are available for free here:https://t.co/afFEfRQQ5C
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 26, 2020
Rowling’s compassion and generosity doesn’t end there.
“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,” she wrote.
So, the site is running a competition in tandem with the story’s release. As chapters are published daily, the author will make suggestions about drawings and paintings that could go with the story. Children aged 7-12 can submit their illustrations directly to a publisher — in the U.S., they’ll enter through Scholastic’s website by July 17.
Her publishers will choose which images will work for different versions of the November 2020 print, eBook and audiobook release of “The Ickabog.” The contest is currently open to residents of the U.K., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, the U.S. and Canada, although other countries should soon be included.
While she won’t be judging the competition, Rowling is going to be looking at any artwork shared on Twitter with the hashtag #TheIckabog and might even share and comment on it. That’s exactly what she’s been doing, with heaps of praise and encouragement for the budding artists.
I love every single one of these! #TheIckabog https://t.co/GRtNS8fvpp
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 27, 2020
Something that doesn’t come as much of a surprise is that Rowling, known for her sizable charity donations, has pledged to donate all her royalties from the books when they are published to help people who have been affected by the novel coronavirus.
Can’t wait to dig in? You can read “‘The Ickabog” right here.