Review: The Ickabog

This one is less of a review and more of a public notice. For who am I, mere mortal, to review a book written by God Herself. Fellow Potterheads, unite. JKR has written another children’s book, and it is called The Ickabog. You can pretty much stop reading here because true Potterheads don’t need any more information and are probably already halfway through Chapter 1 by the time you reach the end of this sentence.

If you are not as crazy as the rest of us about JKR, I’m going to assume you haven’t read Harry Potter. Largely because I refuse to believe any human with a functioning heart can read and not love HP, even though I know such people exist (and need heart transplants). 

So for those of you who aren’t familiar with JKR’s work, I’m jealous of you because that magical world lies unexplored before you. Coming to The Ickabog, the world’s best children’s books author wrote this for her own children as a bedtime story and it stayed unpublished in her attic while she moved on to writing detective novels, the Cormoran Strike series under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. That is yet another magical world if you haven’t consumed all of it yet unlike me.

But with the Covid crisis striking, JKR took The Ickabog out of its hiding place, dusted it up, and started putting it out, one chapter at a time, for children to read while stuck at home. What’s more, she ran (and is running) an illustration competition for children reading the book to draw it’s characters from their imagination. Parents, here is where you lie prostrate on the ground and kiss God’s feet. She not only has given yet another fabulous book for children to read, devour and enjoy, but also given them a creative outlet which keeps them mercifully busy while you cook dinner, do your Zoom calls, or just take a long bath (as a new parent I have myself forgotten what the latter feels like so I appreciate its value for us).

The Ickabog is a story set in the kingdom of Cornucopia, which is ruled by the vain King Fred, and his close aides and advisors Lord Spittleworth and Lord Flapoon. It is also the story of two young friends, Daisy and Bert, their families and countrymen and women. Cornucopia is a land of plenty and is famous for its cheese, its wine, and the mythical monster who is rumoured to live in its outskirts, The Ickabog.

The Ickabog is a tale of human courage, deceit, vanity, cruelty, friendship, love, spite and most of all, human kindness. I can’t say much more without giving away spoilers but I really do believe that this book should, like Harry Potter, be compulsory reading for children everywhere. Drawing competitions that unleash creativity aside, telling our children stories like this will help us ensure that their tomorrow is better than the today we live in.

Go read The Ickabog and come and tell me how much you love love LOVE it so we can jump up and down in excitement and fangirl together!

Image Credits: One of the best illustrations I’ve seen so far in the contest, made by an amazing young talent, Indrashis, age 7. Shared by Ananya B on Twitter and retweeted by God Herself.

All chapters of The Ickabog are currently available to read for free on theickabog.com

As per a recent statement by JKR, The Ickabog will remain online for a little while longer and will then come offline before being published as a physical book later this year, complete with winning illustrations from the contest. Her royalties will be donated to charities supporting those affected by Covid-19 because What Else Would God Do!

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