Books & Art

Look At These Monsters That Kids Made For J.K. Rowling’s New Book

The Ickabog is now free to read online, and the author is crowd-sourcing illustrations for its print version.
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J.K. Rowling is back in the imagination game. The author who gave us the wonderful universe of Harry Potter has unleashed The Ickabog on the Internet. 

There are two things to unpack here: First, this is a new book and also a non-Harry story—don’t look for him. Second, it’s free to read on its website, with two chapters, “King Fred the Fearless” and “The Ickabog,” already live and more installments to be released every weekday until July 10. 

Interestingly, the author also launched an illustration contest to provide a distraction for children in “the strange and difficult time we’re passing through” and maybe also help you get those high-energy rugrats off your back.

The real goal, however, is finding illustrations for the printed version of the book, which will be published in November 2020. The bad news? The competition is only open to the U.S., Canada, the U.K. Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and India, but Rowling says she’ll include other countries soon.

We’ll leave the intricate rules to its publishers, but the important things to know are these: Though the contest is for seven- to 12-year-olds, “all ages are free to post their pictures on here,” says Rowling on Twitter. “I'd love to see them!” The author also releases themes to guide the entries, but kids can do whatever they want. In short, doodles are welcome.

Themes for the first two chapters include, of course, the Ickabog and King Fred plus Lady Eslanda, various lords, a map or a flag of Cornucopia, the setting of the story, and “pastries, cheese, sausages, and wine.” Rowland goes on to mention that she values creativity, inventiveness, and effort and not necessarily technical skill in the drawings. See some of the first submissions below.


The Ickabog

King Fred the Fearless

Lady Eslanda


If you’re keen to participate, remember to include #TheIckabog in your post so Rowland, an active Twitter user, can retweet and comment.

Rowling says the story, which she wrote for her children over 10 years ago, is meant to be read out loud. Whether you read it yourself, or have it read to you, I hope you enjoy it,” she adds in her long Twitter note.

In one final bit of good news, the author will also donate royalties of the published books to COVID-19 projects. Consider that as the monster story's fairytale ending.

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Clifford Olanday
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