Will the real monster please stand up
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
June 6, 2020
When the last book in the Harry Potter series was published, readers wondered what J.K. Rowling would write next. She said she was doing something completely different and had already started. She said it was nothing like Harry Potter. Then she hinted at a children’s fairy tale. That was the last we heard of it, till now.
During the time between, Rowling kept busy raising her young family. In her spare time she did manage to write a gritty novel in typical British style. Quite droll. Plain text. Deep emotional impact. Tight characters. Heavy subjects. The “Casual Vacancy” made me cry at its rawness.
Next, using the pen name Robert Galbraith, she began a murder mystery series featuring a retired British army veteran coming home from the war in Afghanistan. Wounded, and minus half a leg, with his personal relationships floundering, Cormoran Strike cuts all emotional ties and opens his own detective agency in “The Cuckoos Calling.” Then cases come, both mundane and gruesome. And with them comes a pretty ginger haired secretary, engaged and planning her wedding. In the next three books they solve cases together and grow closer while the wedding looms. The fifth book, “Troubled Blood,” is set to be released Sept. 29. Beware! These are not cozy mysteries by any stretch.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” premiered on stage July 30, 2016, (the day before Harry’s birthday). Rowling didn’t write this story alone but it is purported to be the further life of Harry Potter after the ending of Deathly Hallows. Both a stage play and a two play script in book form, Rowling moved Harry’s story forward. Then she moved it back. A book first penned by Rowling in the name of Newt Scamander in 2001 was welcomed with great excitement by Harry Potter fans as a 2016 movie. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” had Newt in New York city with a suitcase full of wonderful and awesomely scary beasts. Fifty years before Harry enters Hogwarts, we recognize names and characters and they flow over into the next movie and script, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Rowling has indicated there will be three more pre-Harry movies to come. She is filling in the blanks and shedding light on how and why Harry became the boy who lived.
I took the long way around to tell you that after that first tease, Rowling has finally revealed her fairy tale. The one she wrote after the first Harry Potter series. The manuscript languished in her attic, though she shared and retold the story numerous times to her own young children. Rowling has now dusted off the story and after consulting with her teenagers and taking into account their input in editing and embellishing, Rowling has decided to give children and their families around the world her story in internet form. They come a few chapters at a time and started the week I was writing this book review. How could I resist?
As the world is living through this pandemic, Rowling gives us the fairy tale of “The Ickabog” in serial form. Some days two chapters, other days three. Off on weekends. As I am writing this very moment, I have read the adventure to chapter 10. Instead of waiting through the last editing process, illustrating and printing, that takes so long to publish books these days, she announced a new website at http://www.theickabog.com. You too can immerse yourself and your family in the life of King Fred the Fearless and the people of Cornucopia, following their lives and their challenges. See what it is like to have a monster Ickabog wallowing in the swamp just outside of town.
In order to share the creative process with the readers, Rowling has asked children around the globe to illustrate the story as it unfolds. Parents have been tweeting their children’s drawings to Rowling and she has responded to many of the wonderful concepts and interpretations that will later be considered at http://www.scholatic.com/illustrationcompetition for illustrating the printed book. Hopefully it will be out by November. All proceeds will go to organizations working to helping families through the pandemic.
As we are opening up across our country and in our small town, it will take time to find our way to a new normal. School openings are at this time in question and families are still homeschooling their children and keeping them close and safe. What a gift from a beloved author, to give her story to the children and their families at this continuing uncertain time. What will we learn through the Ickabog and from his victims? Who will learn a lesson and who will perish or achieve victory? These are the questions we all ask in life, whether make believe or real.
Good books. Good reading.
*Midge Lyn’dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.