Joan Kathleen Rowling is a famous British writer, author of the famous Harry Potter epic, which has eight books. Her works are read by children all over the world. However, according to Rowling herself, she never set herself the goal of writing specifically for a children's audience. In her opinion, the fact that children are so fond of the Harry Potter books is pure coincidence. In 2020, Rowling's new book, The Ickabog, was published. I must say that this work, despite the obvious differences with Potteriana, has noticeable similarities with it.
Separately, I would like to note the design of the book. A lot of work has been done on the Russian-language edition, which is immediately noticeable - the book is wrapped in a bright dust jacket, and inside it is illustrated with drawings by young readers - winners of the Makhaon publishing house competition. There is a place for pride for the people of Yugorsk here - one of the winners was a young resident of Nizhnevartovsk, Riana Yamalieva, who portrayed the characters of a fairy tale.
But back to the content of the Ickabog. As I mentioned above, JK Rowling never wrote for children. And there are many contradictions here. The age limit for the Ickabog is 6+. The font is large - especially for the children's eyes, the chapters are small (2-3 pages each). The themes touched upon in the book teach the young reader kindness, denounce the vices of mankind and praise the heroes.
The tale tells about the kingdom of Cornicopia and its inhabitants. From the very beginning, the author divides all the characters into good and bad. So, ordinary inhabitants of the kingdom are kind and brave people devoted to their land. They are opposed by the top of power, the king and his entourage - cowardly, but cunning and vile. For their own benefit, in order to increase their fortunes at the expense of the impoverished inhabitants, this "powerful bunch" goes on a cruel plan, "inventing" the Ickabog and presenting him as a bloodthirsty monster, because of which the kingdom allegedly became impoverished. Under the guise of this monster, Lord Slyunmore, the main antagonist of the book, commits many terrible crimes. It's no joke - the first 250 pages of The Ickabog are filled with scenes of murder and betrayal, without any hope of improving the situation (and this is in a children's fairy tale)! The obvious political context, put at the forefront, is to blame. This is the reason why this story, in the spirit of political satire, cannot be called childish. High-ranking officials can do everything here - rob, kill, betray, deceive - while ordinary citizens can only hope for the best. It is good that in the end there are brave volunteers who bravely volunteered to fight the false monster. They are four guys - Daisy, Martha, Roderick and Bertie. These characters are in many ways similar to the characters of the Potteriana. Despite everything, they continue to be brave and strong in spirit, even when there is little hope left. They are united by a strong friendship, which helps to defeat the monsters. All four, for one reason or another, were deprived of parental warmth. Here another important topic is raised - the topic of orphanhood. For Rowling, who is the founder of the Lumos Foundation, which helps orphans, it was necessary to say this.
The Ickabog makes you think a lot. And if a child, after reading a book, takes from it only the meaning that lies on the surface - what is good and what is bad, then an adult will draw deeper conclusions. This story made me think about the kind of society we live in. Is everything we see true? And everyone needs to consciously understand what is really worth being afraid of. Each person has his own “inner Ickabog”, the fear of which overpowers the desire to move on. What if this monster is more afraid of you than you are of him? In any case, you need to fight your fears, otherwise your soul will become like Cornicopia during the reign of Slyunmor.