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Girl in a jacket

JK Rowling to publish fairy tale free for locked-down children

The creator of the “Harry Potter” books JK Rowling said on Tuesday she would release a free online serialization of a bedtime story she wrote for her children 10 years ago.

The superstar British writer said she decided to pull “The Ickabog” story “down from the attic” and publish it for children forced to stay at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

JK Rowling
British author JK Rowling. Image: Andrew Matthews/POOL/AFP

“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.

Rowling said she would post the first two chapters on a dedicated website — www.theickabog.com — on Tuesday, with 34 further installments released each weekday until July 10.

She then intends to publish the story in English in November and other languages later on. All royalties will be given to projects assisting groups particularly affected by the pandemic.

Written to be read aloud, “The Ickabog” is a story “in the fairy tale tradition” set in an imaginary land and aimed primarily at children aged between seven and nine.

It is unrelated to any of Rowling’s other previous works, though she noted it was penned “in fits and starts” between her “Harry Potter” books.

“‘The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” she said, adding it was not “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,” she said.

The author is inviting budding young artists inspired by its “host of colorful characters and fast-paced plot” to illustrate the story and enter their artworks into a global competition being run by her publishers.

The winners will have their drawings included in the published book in their part of the world.

“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,” she said.

Rowling added she wanted to see “imaginations run wild.”

“Creativity, inventiveness and effort are the most important things: we aren’t necessarily looking for the most technical skill!” she said. NVG


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