Here's how to read JK Rowling's new book for free - and how to enter the illustration competition

JK Rowling has announced that she is publishing a fairy tale called The Ickabog – and children are being offered the chance to have their drawings featured

The Harry Potter author announced on Twitter that The Ickabog would be free to all and published online.

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The fairy tale will mark her first foray into children’s storytelling since she published Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007.

Is the book a spin-off of Harry Potter?


The author immediately fended off speculation that The Ickabog was anyway related to the Harry Potter franchise.

She tweeted: “I want to head off one possible source of confusion. THIS IS NOT A HARRY POTTER SPIN-OFF.”

What is it about?

Writing on her official website, Rowling said that the children’s book would cover the themes of “ truth and the abuse of power”.

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She added: “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.”

Why is she releasing it now?

The story was written by Rowling a decade ago as a gift to her children.

She wrote: “Over time I came to think of it as a story that belonged to my two younger children, because I’d read it to them in the evenings when they were little, which has always been a happy family memory.”

Rowling said that after enthusiastic backing from her children she has decided to release it for free to children as a distraction from Covid-19.

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All author royalties will help groups who’ve been particularly impacted by the pandemic.

When can I read it?

JK Rowling revealed that she will release “a chapter (or two or three)” every weekday between May 26 and 10 July.

The first of these chapters will be released at 3pm this afternoon.

Where can I read it?

Every installation of the story can be read at

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Anything else?

In line with The Ickabog’s release, Rowling is running an illustration competition.

Detailing the competition, Rowling said: “There will be suggestions about the illustrations we might need for each chapter on The Ickabog website, but nobody should feel constrained by these ideas. I want to see imaginations run wild!

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

Children’s illustrations will be included in a hard copy of the book when it is released in November 2020.

Families wishing to take part can read more about the competition at the Ickabog website.