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Listen Up! The Ickabog

"As tall as two horses. Eyes like glowing balls of fire. Long, razor-sharp claws. The Ickabog is coming...."

Today we feature chapter one from J.K. Rowling's new book, The Ickabog:

1. The author of the book is famous. Super-famous. Sold 500 million copies famous. If you haven't read the Harry Potter series yet, that's ok. But certainly you have had some element of the Potter-mania enter your life. Knowing that the author is super famous, her books are super popular, does that change your expectation for The Ickabog? I found myself considering the same question.

Would I enjoy this book in the same way if I didn't love the Harry Potter series? It's an interesting thing to consider, the context a book fits in to our world. Consider this commercial, the company uses celebrity to endorse their product. The thinking is that we will want to buy the product because we "trust" the celebrity or because we want to be like that admired celebrity.

2. Ok back to the story. What did you think about King Fred the Fearless's "friends," Lord Spittleworth & Lord Flapoon? Do they seem like good freinds? Nah, gross guys, right. Totally manipulative & conniving. The descriptions aren't very unique. In fact, these kinds of characters are called stock characters. "A stereotyped character easily recognized by readers or audiences from recurrent appearances in literary or folk tradition, usually within a specific genre such as comedy or fairy tale." ( I bet you can recognize examples of these stock characters in lots of books, movies & tv shows:

  • absent-minded professor

  • bard

  • crone

  • boy next door

  • evil twin

  • geek

  • jock

  • outlaw

  • reluctant hero

  • scrooge

  • and my personal favorite, the shhhushing librarian;)

In some ways, these kinds of characters can be helpful to the reader. We instantly recognize what role Spittleworth & Flapoon are going to play in the story based on similar characters we have encountered before. An author may choose to surprise the reader with a twist but more often a stock character stays within their role. Sometimes a stock character can be upsetting when a group of people are portrayed in a negative way. For example the "dumb blonde" or the "token person" or "cat lady." Keep an eye out for stock characters. Try to figure out why an author chooses to use them.

3. What do you think about the way the citizens of Cornucopia view the folk who live in the swampy marsh lands? "As far as the rest of Cornucopia was concerned, the only memorable thing to come out of the Marshlands was the legend of the Ickabog." Does it sound like these people are treated fairly in this land? Do you think we will find a hero among the Marshlanders? Or a villian? Hmmm....

4. I love the way our minds create images in our heads while listening to a story. I wonder how you pictured the king, or the Hopes of Heaven pastries? Do you have an idea of what you think the Ickabog might be? Even though I like my own imaginations for what the characters & settings look like, one of my favorite aspects of the book are the illustrations. The author, J.K. Rowling invited children between the ages of 7-12 years old to submit illustrations for The Ickabog. You can view the competition winners here.

5. One of the other cool things about this book is that the author notes that she had been working on this story for many years. Maybe it is best for you to read her own words:

Toodleloo, Kangaroos

Today's book was The Ickabog, by J.K. Rowling. You can visit the author's website for fun storytelling games, author talks & more! Inspired by the young illustrators in the story? There are tons of writing contests illustration opportunites out there!

Thanks to Pexels contributers for providing awesome video clips.

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