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The Ickabog

Written by J. K. Rowling

Adventure Stories Fantasy / Magical Featured Books for 7+ readers Free Books for 7+ readers Free Books for 9+ readers

Other Info

A message from J. K. Rowling;

“The idea for The Ickabog came to me while I was still writing Harry Potter. I wrote most of a first draft in fits and starts between Potter books, intending to publish it after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

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.

A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting The Ickabog down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers 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).

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 7-9 year olds to read to themselves.

I’ll be posting a chapter (or two, or three) every weekday between 26th May and 10th July on The Ickabog website. We plan to publish some translations soon and will post further details on that website when they’re available.

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. 

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. (www.theickabog.com/competition)

I’m pledging all author royalties from The Ickabog, when published, to help groups who’ve been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Further details will be available later in the year.”

The Ickabog Synopsis

Written to be read aloud, The Ickabog is a fairy tale, set in an imaginary land, and is a complete stand-alone story unrelated to the author’s other work.  It will appeal to children between the ages of 7 and 9 but can be enjoyed by the whole family.  The story will be translated into a number of other languages, and made available on the website shortly after the English language version appears.  

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 0000000005
Publication date: 26/05/2020
Publisher: Available Online Only
Format: Ebook

Book Information

ISBN: 0000000005
Publication date: 26th May 2020
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Available Online Only
Format: Ebook
Suitable for: 7+ readers
Genres: Adventure Stories, Fantasy / Magical
Other Categories: Free Books for 7+ readers, Free Books for 9+ readers

About J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was J.K. Rowling's first novel, followed by the subsequent six titles in the Harry Potter series, as well as three books written for charity: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The Harry Potter novels have now sold over 450 million copies worldwide and been translated into 77 languages. Click here to see the new Harry Potter books site with illustrations by Jonny Duddle.

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