The Ickabog

I’ve read quite a few books by J.K. Rowling now. In addition to the Harry Potter books, which made her deservedly famous and wealthy, and for which she will always be remembered no matter how many books she writes, I’ve read The Casual Vacancy (an interesting novel dealing with class differences in modern England), a couple of the Cormoran Strike mysteries (if you like detective stories, they are pretty good – nothing that really changed the genre or anything, but I liked the plucky female sidekick), and, most recently, after perusing the shelves of the woefully small English section at Prague’s beautiful central library, the one with the infinity tower of books at the entrance, The Ickabog.
Now, The Ickabog is very definitely a children’s book, aimed at a much younger audience than Harry Potter was. That’s O.K. I enjoy reading children’s books. It’s a genre to itself, and contains some brilliant literature. The Ickabog is, indeed, brilliant.
It has the kind of message that you’d expect from a children’s book. Kindness begets kindness, the truth will set you free, all children are loved, etc…
It begins in a happy, pleasant kingdom which has a vain and foolish king, whose treacherous, sycophantic advisors turn the place into a dystopian hellhole in an amazingly brief span of time, but the good guys win, of course, in the end, and there are happy endings all around.
There was one thing I especially liked about it and which proved to me that Rowling is not only a brilliant author but an all around good person, a real world Daisy Dovetail (the heroine of the book), no matter what anybody says.
The book is illustrated by children from around the world, who responded to a contest. The illustrations are, of course, childlike, but they are very good. In addition to illustrating the story, they add a bit of diversity to it. It was a bit of a gimmick, I suppose, but one which worked beautifully and gave many children a real part in a book which will live forever.

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