J.K. Rowling has announced plans to serialize her new book, The Ickabog, for free on the internet through July.
In a blog post and corresponding Twitter thread on Tuesday, she emphasized the book is a stand-alone fairy tale, unrelated to the Harry Potter series. Rowling also said she will donate royalties from the book project to COVID-19 relief causes.
Rowling said the new book, her first children’s outing since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007, is called The Ickabog. One or more chapters will be posted each weekday on a dedicated website, today through July 10. The complete story will be published in book form, including an e-book edition, in November.
The author said she decided to make the chapters available for free this spring and summer “so children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them.”
Rowling said her royalties from the book will go to “projects and organizations helping the groups most impacted by COVID-19.” She promised more details about specific recipients of the donations soon.
In addition, she said children would be invited to submit illustrations for The Ickabog via a social media hashtag. A contest will be held, with the final books featuring the “best illustrations in each global territory,” Rowling wrote.
The idea for The Ickabog came to Rowling, she recalled, while she was finishing the Potter series. She wound up shelving it for other projects and has recently taken a five-year break from active publishing. She didn’t reveal plot details in her initial tease, but said the story is “suitable” to be read aloud by 7-to-9-year-olds and “lends itself” to serialized storytelling.
“The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling wrote. “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.”
Until recently, she added, “the only people who’d heard the story of The Ickabog were my two younger children.”
Bloomsbury published the Potter books in the UK, with Scholastic handling U.S. rights. In her blog post about The Ickabog, Rowling did not specify publishing details. Along with her representatives, she thanked Arthur Levine, her editor at Scholastic who left in 2019 to start a new publishing venture, and Ruth Alltimes, publisher of Hachette Children’s Group.
Rowling’s novel for adult readers, The Casual Vacancy, was published by Hachette’s Little, Brown in 2012. Under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, she published The Cuckoo’s Calling in 2013.
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