J.K. Rowling’s new book The Ickabog
The pandemic has been especially difficult for little kids who have been compelled to be cooped up at home with their bubbling energy and enthusiasm.
J.K. Rowling decided to make the process easier for parents and carers who were home-schooling their kids by giving them a unique opportunity to stay engaged. Conceptualised and written almost 10 years ago, The Ickabog was a fairy tale that Rowling had written for her younger children, and a decade later, this year she decided to share the story online for free consumption in the form of episodes.
Little kids stayed glued to the story of a mythical green monster found in the marshlands of the otherwise beautiful land of Cornucopia. A land where the best cheese, wine and sweets were made and the beauty of which was astounding except for one marshland up north that proved to be an eyesore for the country. It was here that the monstrous Ickabog infamously resided. The tale is of two kids and their adventure that begins with this mythical creature and goes on to be subtle treats of lessons in friendship, camaraderie and loyalty.
However, the best part of this episodical piece that has now been made into a gorgeous hardcover book named The Ickabog (Hachette India; Rs 1299) was the contest Rowling ran with each episode! Children from New Zealand, Australia, UK, India and Ireland aged seven to 12 years were invited to submit their own illustrated creations to go with the story. From a large list of over 18,000 pictures, Rowling chose the best few that went into the final book. Making for a stunning book worthy of a collector’s bookshelf, The Ickabog makes for a great gift for little ones and adults alike. Eight Indian kids made it into the coveted list with their stunning interpretations of the story and we asked three of them — Divymaan, Meghashree and Sai Prasad — what the moment felt like. Here is what they said…
What was the experience of reading The Ickabog in episodes during quarantine?
Sai Prasad: It was a very enjoyable read for me and was very interesting how the character of the Ickabog changed over the story.
Divymaan: Reading the book every day gave me something exciting to look forward to during the lockdown days. I got more and more interested in the book as the story developed.
Meghashree: It was a very beautiful experience. I felt very engaged while reading it and didn’t feel bored being at home at all. I always looked forward to the next chapter in the following weeks and waited to do my next drawing.
What are some of your other favourite storybooks?
Sai Prasad: Harry Potter, Secret Seven, BFG and Goosebumps series.
Divymaan: I enjoy reading a lot of Roald Dahl books like The Enormous Crocodile and Esio Trot. I also enjoy reading non-fiction like biographies and life stories of famous people.
Meghashree: All books of Roald Dahl, Gerenimo Stilton, Thea Stilton, Ruskin Bond and Sudha Murthy.
What was the feeling like holding the physical copy of The Ickabog in your hands?
Sai Prasad: It was like a dream come true. It was a very good feeling holding the book in my own hands for the first time and seeing my illustration in it.
Divymaan: It felt really good and special. I was so happy to see my illustration in the beautiful book and what made it even more special was that my copy was signed by J.K. Rowling herself.
Meghashree: It was unimaginable that I was holding the book. I was feeling proud of myself and excited that my drawing came in her book and I felt like reading the book once again. I was equally excited to see all the drawings of other children and to have made my country proud.