Review of The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling
Anya Geist, 13
All over the world, children are stuck in quarantine. And, I’d imagine, a lot of them (myself included) have been staring at their bookshelves, trying to find books they’ve never read and suffering through rereading books that they never really liked in the first place. Libraries are closed, and ordering new books can often take a long time. So, how are kids supposed to find and read new books?
J.K. Rowling, internationally famous author of Harry Potter, has come up with a solution. Her new book, The Ickabog, a medieval adventure, is being released chapter-by-chapter on her website (listed at bottom). The Ickabog’s target age range is probably from ages 7-11. However, I am positive that anyone will enjoy this new, creative story by one of the world’s favorite authors!
The Ickabog is not a Harry Potter story. It doesn’t even take place in the same world. Instead, it describes the made-up, medieval land of Cornucopia. There is no magic in Cornucopia–at least, not yet–but Rowling’s descriptive language and thoughtful, memorable characters give it a magical feeling of its own. King Fred the Fearless is the main character of the book, a somewhat blundering, ignorant ruler, who has a good heart. His entourage includes the slightly despicable lords Spittleworth and Flapoon, as well as the more honorable Major Beamish. Rowling’s characters are as solid as they are in Harry Potter, and their names hold the same charm; Daisie Dovetail and Bert Beamish, two children who play a role in the story, both with well-crafted personalities, would fit in well with the witches and wizards of Harry Potter, what with their alliterated names.
The Ickabog takes place in a very fun world. Cornucopia is a land renowned for its foods. The King lives in the capital city of Chouxville (pronounced Shoe-ville), where they are famous for their pastries (a choux is a type of pastry). There is Baronstown, the city of sausages and hams, and Kurdsburg, which produces the finest cheeses. The last city of note is Jeroboam, which makes wines–Rowling comments, “They said of the Jeroboam air that you could get tipsy simply walking its streets.” As you can see, all of Cornucopia is a lively, luscious land. Well, most of it.
Beyond Jeroboam is the Marshlands, which are a source of intrigue in the book. The people of the Marshlands are haggard, and their farm animals thin; altogether, this region of the country is rather ignored by the rest of the kingdom. However, the Marshlands is the site of the mysterious, mythical Ickabog, a monster that is said to roam its distasteful lands, snatching both animals and people away. But no one has ever seen the Ickabog. Most people regard it as lore, something to tell children about so that they behave. What if it is real, though? Could it be? And, if it is, what is it’s story? What dangers could it pose for the kingdom?
For now, these questions are unanswered, spinning a web of mystery and intrigue, as currently, as only chapters 1 through 11 have been released online, though more are being added everyday and will be until July 10. Each chapter is around 1000 words–equivalent to 3 pages in a book–which means that the story is not too much of a commitment to read, perfect for times when you just need a short break from this quarantine world and want to disappear into a new land, a place filled with life and adventure.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading The Ickabog as it comes out, and I am 13. I strongly urge all of you to read it, either by yourself or with your family. It is really a fabulous tale.
Furthermore, J.K. Rowling is offering a really exciting opportunity for all artists ages 7-12! On her website (which, again, is listed below), you will find all of the details for an illustration contest!
Draw your own illustrations for The Ickabog, and follow the link to the Scholastic website, where you can submit them. When The Ickabog is published in print, later this year, Scholastic will choose a number of submitted drawings to illustrate the book!
Once again, The Ickabog is a really fun story, and I would highly recommend reading it! And, it's already been translated into 5 different languages so you can share it with friends across the world.
This is the link to the official Ickabog website, where you can read the story and learn more about the illustration contest: https://www.theickabog.com/home/