I had the idea for The Ickabog a long time ago and read it to my two younger children chapter by chapter each night while I was working on it. However, when the time came to publish it, I decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic. I became busy with other things, and even though I loved the story, over the years I came to think of it as something that was just for my own children.
Then, in the Spring of 2020, lockdown happened. It was very hard on children, in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then decided to publish it at first in free instalments online for children stuck at home. I also thought how wonderful it would be if children on lockdown illustrated the story for me, and so we launched the Ickabog illustration competition, run by my publishers around the world.
The Ickabog book, illustrated by the winners of the competition, is now out as a book, and I’m donating my net royalties to my charitable trust, Volant, to help medical and frontline charities supporting vulnerable groups impacted by Covid-19.
Thank you to everyone who entered the competition and helped create the book, and I hope you enjoy reading it!
The Illustration Competition
Back in the 2020 lockdown, J.K. Rowling invited children across the world to take part in a competition with a truly delightful prize: a chance to see their illustrations in her new book…Read more
All You Need to Know
If you have any questions about The Ickabog – the story, the characters, or how J. K. Rowling came to publish the book – you’ll find the answers here.Read more
About The Book
What’s The Ickabog all about? You can look inside the book here, listen to a snippet from the audiobook, and watch J. K. Rowling reading selected chapters aloud…Read more
If you’re ready to have some creative fun with The Ickabog, then download your free activity pack now. And while you’re here, you can get some artistic tips from winners of the illustration competition…Read more
Where did the idea for The Ickabog come from? Is this a Harry Potter or Wizarding World story?
The Ickabog is an original, one-off story and is a fairy tale, set in an imaginary country called Cornucopia. The idea came to me well over a decade ago and was first written as a story for my two younger children, becoming a personal family favourite.
The Ickabog is not a Harry Potter story, nor is it set in the wizarding world, though the idea for The Ickabog came to me while I was still writing Harry Potter.
You can read more about the story of The Ickabog here.
How did The Ickabog come to be published?
After the last Harry Potter book I took a break and decided to write a book for adults. The first draft of The Ickabog went up into the attic, where it remained for nearly a decade. Then, during the Covid-19 pandemic, I had the idea of getting The Ickabog back down and publishing it as free instalments online, for children in lockdown. My now teenage children were touchingly enthusiastic, and I found myself once again immersed in the world of Cornucopia.
As I worked to finish the story, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again, just as I had done when my children were little. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog’s first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they’d particularly liked (I obeyed)!
What age is the story suitable for?
The story is primarily aimed at seven to twelve year olds. It’s a story best read aloud, so if you have someone to read it to you, even better!
What was special about the release of The Ickabog?
The Ickabog was first released for free as an online serialisation during lockdown in 2020. I posted a chapter (or two, or three) every weekday between May and July, to help entertain children, parents and carers confined at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
I think The Ickabog worked well for serialisation because it was written as a read-aloud book.
What was The Ickabog illustration competition?
Having decided to publish the story, I thought how wonderful it would be if children were involved as The Ickabog unfolded by illustrating the story and its colourful characters for the book.
An illustration competition was held in 2020 in each territory, and after an incredible global response from children, the winners of each artwork competition were chosen by publishers and featured in the book for thousands of people to see! You can read more about the competition, and see the winning illustrations, here.
Can I still share my pictures?
The publishers’ illustration competitions are now all closed but do keep drawing and ask a parent or guardian to share on social media – we would still love to see your pictures!
You – or your parent or guardian if you are under thirteen – can share your pictures on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #TheIckabog.
Where can I read the story?
The Ickabog is now available in print, audio and e-book, and I am delighted to say is translated into over 26 languages, for children around the world to enjoy. Each local edition of the book includes illustrations by the winners of a competition in that territory.
Were proceeds from the book donated to charity?
Yes, I donated my royalties to my charitable trust, The Volant Trust to assist vulnerable groups who have been particularly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK and internationally.
To my absolute astonishment, sales of the book have enabled Volant to so far distribute millions of pounds to charities helping mitigate the wide-ranging effects of Covid-19. You can read more about the donation here.
Will there be a movie adaptation? Will there be a stage play?
At the moment there are no plans to make a movie or stage adaptation of The Ickabog.