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JK Rowling unveils children's book

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-05-28 09:40

JK Rowling has also published books for adults under the pen name Robert Galbraith. DEBRA HURFORD BROWN/HANDOUT/REUTERS

The British author JK Rowling has delighted fans by unveiling a new book, her first children's story to stand apart from the fictional world of the wizard Harry Potter.

And she is making the book, The Ickabog, available in free daily online installments.

Rowling said in a lengthy Twitter announcement that she came up with the story more than 10 years ago for her own children.

But she said she now wants the "political fairytale" to be available to "children on lockdown, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times".

She published the first two chapters on Tuesday.

They featured King Fred the Fearless, the ruler of Cornucopia, and a 5-year-old called Bert Beamish, along with a monster that eats "children and sheep".

Rowling published her seventh, and reportedly final, Harry Potter book in 2007 and has since published little, other than two novels that were written for adults.

The logo for The Ickabog, the first book JK Rowling has written for children since the end of the Harry Potter series. THEICKABOG.COM/HANDOUT/REUTERS

She said the story she wrote for her children more than a decade ago looked for a while as if it would never be published.

"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 wrote.

But she said her children, now teenagers, supported her when she came up with the idea of polishing up the story and making it available for others to enjoy.

And she said the whole family enjoyed getting the yarn ready.

"As I worked to finish the book, I started reading chapters nightly to the family again," she wrote. "This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my writing life, as The Ickabog's first two readers told me what they remember from when they were tiny, and demanded the reinstatement of bits they'd particularly liked."

She said a paper version of the online book will be printed in November, complete with young readers' illustrations. All proceeds will go to help people who have been "particularly impacted" by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the COVID-19 disease it causes.

Rowling first talked about the story, which she says explores timeless themes of inequality, in a 2007 interview with Time Magazine and it has since taken on almost mythical status among fans.

She said the story is not "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," she added.

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