J.K. Rowling is magicking her way into the lives of the next generation with a brand new book The Ickabog.
The first two chapters of the novel — her first children’s venture that doesn’t take place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — is available online for free, with other instalments to come on July 11 AEST.
The full novel will be available in November and was written for children aged 7-9 to read to themselves and also with their parents.
According to Rowling herself, she had actually started the new novel while writing her acclaimed Harry Potter series.
“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,” she said in a statement on her website.
“The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling added.
“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.”
While parents and children alike would always love another Potter story, this new book has no relation to the series and at this stage, it’s unclear where the plot will take us.
The author has also started an illustration contest called The Ickabog Illustration Competition which is a chance for young artists to be featured in the book. Entries open on May 30 AEST.
“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!” said Rowling in a statement.
Royalties for the novel will go towards those affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic.