J.K. Rowling is publishing a new children’s book called The Ickabog online for free. The book, which is reminiscent of classic fairy tales (not Harry Potter), will release chapter-by-chapter over the next seven weeks—with “a chapter (or two, or three)” being published at a time.
According to Rowling, The Ickabog is an old book that came into existence during Harry Potter’s heyday. It’s for children, but in Rowling’s words, its a story about the timeless themes of “truth and the abuse of power.” Rowling read the book to her children each night while working on it, but decided to publish a “book for adults” instead. After years of collecting dust, Rowling pulled the book out of her attic, touched it up, and decided to release it for free.
The Ickabog isn’t the first Rowling book to come out of the blue, but its timing and subject matter may resonate with readers more than the author’s recent crime novels. For Rowling, the “most exciting part” of The Ickabog’s release is its accompanying Scholastic Illustration Competition. Kids from the ages 7 to 12 can submit drawings that may be featured in The Ickabog book, which is published in November of this year. Rowling will also post illustration requests on her Twitter feed and The Ickabog website so that kids and adults can share their fan-art and interact with the author.
Scholastic hasn’t clarified if contest winners will receive monetary compensation for their work (probably not), but the contest rules state that all entries, even the losing entries, can be used as Scholastic sees fit. According to Rowling, all of her Ickabog book royalties will be donated for Coronavirus relief.