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J.K. Rowling Conjures Up New Online Book, 'The Ickabog,' For Pandemic Release

The first two chapters just went live — and they're free!
J.K. Rowling has been busy during the shutdown, and she's about to keep our kids busy too, with a new book and a competition.
J.K. Rowling has been busy during the shutdown, and she's about to keep our kids busy too, with a new book and a competition.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling just conjured up a new kids’ book, and she’s sharing it for free, online ― a chapter (or two) a day ― for the next seven weeks. Needless to say, H.P. fans are pumped:

With libraries closed for more than two months now, and Muggles still being advised to stay home, the news could not have come at a better time. On the website where her latest work will live, Rowling divulged the genesis of her latest offering:

“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,” she explained.

The Scottish author had intended to publish this book (“a standalone fairytale,” not a Harry Potter spin-off, she stressed on Twitter) once the “Harry Potter” series wrapped up. But instead, she released two book for adults. And that, she wrote, is how “The Ickabog” ended up in the attic.

In her 13-post Twitter thread, Rowling explained she wanted to offer her young fans the book for “these strange, unsettling times.”

Shortly after the lockdown began in the U.K., Rowling (who said she experienced coronavirus symptoms back in March and early April) decided to dust off her partially typed, partially handwritten manuscript.

She whiled away the past weeks at home, reworking it and later getting feedback from her two youngest children (now aged 15 and 17) on the new version. “They told me to put back in some bits they’d liked when they were little, and here we are!” Rowling said.

As well as being able to keep busy reading or listening to the new story, pandemic-weary kids aged 7-12 can also turn their hand to illustrating it, for a competition Rowling also just announced.

The author will make suggestions each day for what kids can draw, inspired by “The Ickabog,” to enter for the chance to have their artwork published in a printed version of the book, which will come out in November.

She invited fans and their parents to share their illustrations on Twitter with the hashtag #TheIckabog. Even on Day 1, entries are pouring in:

All royalties for the print versions of the book, to be released by different publishers, depending on the country, will go to people affected by COVID-19.

That’s the kind of magic the world needs right now.

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