In The Know

J.K. Rowling to release children’s fairy tale ‘The Ickabog’ online during pandemic, will donate royalties

Getty Images

Author J.K. Rowling announced Tuesday that she will be releasing a new children’s fairy tale called “The Ickabog” for free online for young readers to enjoy during the coronavirus pandemic.

The writer behind the bestselling “Harry Potter” franchise said she wrote the story more than a decade ago as a tale for her family to enjoy but is releasing it now so children can read it during “these strange, unsettling times.”

“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,” Rowling wrote on her website. “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.” 

She had meant to publish it after the final “Harry Potter” novel was released but instead turned her attention to writing for adults, releasing “The Casual Vacancy” and “The Cuckoo’s Calling” series written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Described as a story about “truth and power,” Rowling said the tale “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.” 

Targeted at readers ages 7 to 9, “The Ickabog” will be published online in 34 installments every weekday until July 10, with the first two chapters being uploaded on Tuesday. 

Rowling is asking for children to help illustrate the book for her.

“I’ll be suggesting ideas for pictures as we go, but nobody should feel constrained by my ideas. Let your imaginations run wild!” Rowling wrote on Twitter.

The best drawings will be selected to appear in the published edition, available in November.

However, the author behind the Wizarding World clearly stated that the new tale is not a spinoff of her wildly successful “Harry Potter” universe.

Rowling said she will be donating all royalties from “The Ickabog” to help groups impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The author earlier this month announced that she was donating 1 million pounds, or more than $1.25 million, to help people struggling with homelessness and domestic violence survivors during the pandemic. 

Rowling has also taken steps to make her writing more accessible to those stuck inside during the pandemic.

In March, she granted an open license for teachers to post videos of themselves reading aloud from the “Harry Potter” books while students are cooped up at home and schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In April, she unveiled an online collection of “Harry Potter” content to “help you bring the magic of the wizarding world into your home at this difficult time.”

“Harry Potter At Home” is being distributed by the Wizarding World — the partnership of Warner Bros. and Pottermore — with the aim of bringing families together to celebrate reading for pleasure, especially for first-time readers of the book series about the boy wizard.

“But the hub is also a place for those of you who have loved Harry Potter for decades: a place for you to feel the warmth of the fire in the Gryffindor common room or a much-needed hug from Mrs Weasley,” Wizarding World said on its website.

Tags coronavirus pandemic Cuckoo's Calling Harry Potter JK Rowling JK Rowling The Ickabog
See all Hill.TV See all Video