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Read J.K. Rowling's New Book, 'The Ickabog,' Online for Free

J.K. Rowling
Beloved Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has released a brand new story online for free. John Phillips/Getty Images/J.K. Rowling/HowStuffWorks

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Harry Potter fans of all ages now have the chance to find out what it would be like to have J.K. Rowling read them a bedtime story. Well, almost. That's because the bestselling author has begun releasing chapters of "The Ickabog," a story she wrote years ago to read to her own children each night.

"The Ickabog" tells the story of the mostly bountiful kingdom of Cornucopia, where a mythical monster — the Ickabog — lives "at the very northernmost tip of the country, in a wide patch of dark and often misty marsh too dangerous for humans to enter."

Rowling began unveiling "The Ickabog" on May 26, 2020 and will continue releasing it chapter by chapter — for free — every weekday until July 10 on its own dedicated website. While she wrote it as a read-aloud book, Rowling said that the story is also suitable for children to read to themselves. Dedicated adult fans will probably enjoy the "story about truth and the abuse of power," too.

So why is Rowling releasing "The Ickabog" now? She wrote in a Twitter thread that she always intended to publish it, but she put it away in her attic after the last Harry Potter book was released, and then she focused instead on two novels for adults. But with the coronavirus lockdown across the world, she pulled out the Ickabog story, updated it and decided to share it.

In addition to offering a new tale from the masterful storyteller — Rowling was quick to note on Twitter that "The Ickabog" is not a spin-off of Harry Potter — the release comes with a super-fun element for her youngest fans: an illustration competition. Rowling is inviting kids all over the world ages 7 to 12 to submit drawings and paintings that could be featured in a printed version of the book, scheduled to be published in November.

She wrote on Twitter that she will provide suggestions for drawings, "but nobody should feel constrained by my ideas. Let your imaginations run wild!" Rowling herself won't be judging the competition; that's left up to the book publishers. Young artists (or their parents and guardians) can also share their work on Twitter using the hashtag #TheIckabog.

Rowling plans to donate all royalties from sales of "The Ickabog" to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

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