J.K. Rowling announced Monday that all proceeds from her first children’s book since Potter will go toward COVID-19 relief efforts.
The Ickabog is a fairytale Rowling originally wrote to entertain her own two children during the time she worked on the Harry Potter series. According to Deadline, Rowling says author royalties from the book will go to “projects and organizations helping the groups most impacted by COVID-19.” Details about specific recipients of the donations are forthcoming.
The author of the beloved Harry Potter series will post excerpts from the story each day on the book’s official website beginning today through July 10.
We are pleased to announce @JK_Rowling's story #TheIckabog is now available to read online for free at https://t.co/HJVrLd0KRI. .— The Ickabog (@TheIckabog) May 26, 2020
Each weekday, over the next seven weeks, a new instalment will be published. We hope you and your children will enjoy this original fairy tale! pic.twitter.com/ddIIWKfeHL
Rowling wasn’t going to publish her fairytale, but now that lockdowns affecting people all over the world, she hopes to offer some much-needed entertainment and escape for children stuck inside.
The author’s own children even helped with the latest rewrite of the familiar with the story from their youth.
“As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again,” Rowling explained. “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).”
Rowling tweeted that pulling out the manuscript after all those years was like unearthing a time capsule. Known for writing bits of Harry Potter on bar napkins and scraps of paper, she appears to have used the same method for The Ickabog.
Opening the box was like opening a time capsule. Most of the story was handwritten, but bits had been typed up. When I put it into some kind of order (I'm not renowned for my filing skills) I had a patchwork first draft.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 26, 2020
“The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling said. “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.”
Rowling has also posted an open call for illustrations to accompany the story. Publishers will choose the best illustrations from all over the world to include in the November 2020 printed version of The Ickabog.
The author says they’re on the lookout for “creativity, inventiveness, and effort…”
Parents and guardians are posting children’s illustration submissions on Twitter using the hashtag #TheIckabog.
… if parents or guardians would like to post artwork on the hashtag #TheIckabog, I’ll be able to retweet and comment!— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 26, 2020
(For full terms & conditions of the competition, you’ll need to go to the publishers’ competition websites, which launch later today.)
Spoiler alert: Here are a few early and adorable submissions…
#TheIckabog @jk_rowling little Sibyl who is 7, drew King Fred the Fearless and Lady Eslanda. What a wonderful creative project for children to get involved in during lockdown. Thank you, the girls are loving this !!!! pic.twitter.com/gyTnPeVNDi— julie mclaren (@im_a_hugger) May 26, 2020
The first two chapters are already up. Read them here.
And if you’re an adult who wants more and you’ve already re-read the entire Harry Potter series while in self-isolation, check out Rowling’s fiction for adult readers. The Casual Vacancy, was published by Hachette’s Little, Brown in 2012, and The Cuckoo’s Calling was published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith in 2013.