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JK Rowling has announced she’s releasing a new bedtime story for kids – completely free online – to help families confined at home during the pandemic.
Explaining her new project on Twitter, the author wrote: “Over 10 years ago, I wrote a stand-alone fairy tale called The Ickabog. I always meant to publish it, but after the last Potter was released, I wrote two novels for adults and, after some dithering, decided to put those out next.
“Until very recently, the only people who’d heard the story of The Ickabog were my two younger children.”
Over time, she wrote, she came to think of “The Ickabog” as just for her family, so the manuscript went up in her attic. But a few weeks ago, she decided to get it down.
“Opening the box was like opening a time capsule,” she wrote. “Most of the story was handwritten, but bits had been typed up. When I put it into some kind of order (I’m not renowned for my filing skills) I had a patchwork first draft.”
She continued: “We’ll be publishing a chapter (or 2 or 3) every weekday, starting at 3pm today and ending on July 10th. You don’t need to register to access the story. You can read it for free on a new website we’ll be launching shortly. But there’s more.”
Rowling went on to explain that she’d like kids to illustrate the book for her. She’ll be suggesting ideas, but says “nobody should feel constrained by my ideas. Let your imaginations run wild!”
The best pictures will be included in the books she intends to publish in November 2020.
She added: “Lastly, I intend to donate my author royalties from the published books to projects and organisations helping the groups most impacted by Covid-19. Full details will be made available later in the year.”
Explaining more details of the book on her website, Rowling wrote: “The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power. 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.”
The story launched at 3pm today [26 May], when the first two chapters were posted on a dedicated website, The Ickabog. And 34 daily instalments will appear in total, each weekday, up until Friday July 10.