My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a book that J.K. Rowling completed last year, mostly because the Covid-19 pandemic prompted her to do more writing, back when we couldn't really do much else.
Plotwise, this is similar to Julia Donaldson's "The Gruffalo", although I noticed a few similarities to the narrative style of Roald Dahl, who I image may have been an influence on JK, particularly with the premise of the Harry Potter series.
Set within a fictional kingdom, the story opens with rumours of an "Ickabog", which end up being perpetuated by the story's main villain, Lord Spittleworth, who seems to have some sort of hold over the well-meaning, but cowardly King. Spittleworth is a particularly despicable character, whose acts involve saying that anyone who doesn't believe in the Ickabog is a traitor, and also faking attacks, even having fake Ickabog feet made to create "evidence".
I enjoyed this story a lot, and it was made even better by having illustrations of events in the book, drawn by various children. The only real criticism I can have about the book was that I could guess how things would end up, but otherwise it was a heartwarming story, with a good mix of drama, humour and fantasy elements, and it definitely felt like a story that kids who aren't quite old enough for the Harry Potter series could enjoy. It also had a good moral message about being kind to others, which is definitely important during the uncertain times that we are living in now.
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