Meet the Indian Children Who Illustrated JK Rowling’s New Book ‘The Ickabog’

These Indian children were among the 34 child illustrators who won the chance to be featured in JK Rowling’s new book, 'The Ickabog'.

The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling had the idea for The Ickabog over a decade ago. She would make up chapters to read out to her two younger children as bedtime stories. But the book ended up in her attic as she began work on a book for adults.

Then, Covid struck. Realising how hard the lockdown was for children in particular, Rowling brought out the Ickabog stories from her attic and serialised it for free online to entertain children.

Soon, the Ickabog illustration competition contest was launched for children age seven to 12. Over 18,000 entries poured in from India, UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Photo: Debra Hurford Brown © J.K. Rowling 2018

Thirty-four winners, including eight from India, now have their illustrations in the new exquisite hardback edition of The Ickabog (Hachette India, Rs 1299). Five little illustrators from India tell us about their Ickabog experience.


Age 7

I first started using water colours during The Ickabog competition. Splashing paint creates wonderful effects and I love it! The red paint splashed all across the page is what makes this illustration special.

It is based on this paragraph: “When Mr and Mrs Tenderloin’s neighbours woke up the next day and found chickens all over the road, they hurried to tell Tubby his birds had escaped. Imagine the neighbours’ horror when they found the enormous footprints, the blood and the feathers, the broken-down back door, and no sign of either husband or wife.”

I love to dance and I have been training in classical ballet for almost four years now. I also love music. I love to sing and I play the piano.

Aria and her illustration

When JK Rowling retweeted my illustration entries six times, I already felt like a winner. Then we got a mail saying that four of my artworks were shortlisted. My mom said I am already a winner and the result does not matter as I had done my best. But when the results were announced with me as one of the winners, I was shocked and could not speak for a few seconds! And when I opened my mouth, I just screamed with joy!

Before this competition, I was not very confident of my drawing. Now I feel I can express myself better and enjoy it even more. Also after reading The Ickabog, I am reading more and reading fast!


Age 8

I love drawing and painting. Reading The Ickabog chapters online and then making illustrations was very interesting. I would read the description of each scene and the characters again and again before working on my illustrations. I made 22 paintings for this competition and I am glad that eight of them got shortlisted.

This selected painting was special as I had to show one of my favourite characters, Bert Beamish, sitting in front of a closed inn. He was sad and lonely. I love pink and blue so I used these colours for the background to depict a night scene and detailing on the tavern.

Divyanshi and her illustration

Besides drawing, I love dancing. I am inclined towards hip-hop and try to bring fusion into my choreography. I won a prize at state level in Gurgaon’s Got Talent – Season 5. I was also able to reach the studio round of Dance India Dance hosted by Zee TV.

I am very happy that my illustration has been selected for JK Rowling’s book. The caption for this illustration reads: “The doors and windows had all been boarded up. The tavern had gone out of business and Harold and his family seemed to have left.”

My whole family was jumping with joy the day we got the results. My family, friends, teachers, and classmates congratulated me. I am so happy. I feel proud and honoured.


Age 10

Anything around me can inspire me. What I see, what I read, what I hear – I like to draw it all. Besides drawing, I like to find out about extinct life forms, marine life and famous personalities. I also play the violin.

Divymaan’s illustration

I felt very happy and very special to be amongst the selected few who won The Ickabog competition. My picture depicts Mr Dovetail who is in jail and misses his daughter.

Nothing much has changed for me after winning. But, because I like to draw a lot, I feel encouraged to draw even more. There is no such thing as too much drawing.


Age 9

Books, books and more books! I just loooove reading! Books are my inspiration. Whenever I am free, I either read or draw. So this competition was made for me!
Apart from drawing and reading, I enjoy travelling, skating and swimming.

Radhya’s illustration

When I found out I had won The Ickabog competition, I felt as if I was on top of the world. It took my breath away for a second! I screamed at the top of my voice. I couldn’t believe it!

This competition has acknowledged my work and my passion and I feel more confident and inspired towards reading and drawing.


Age 7

I started scribbling on the walls of my house when I was two years old. As my interest in drawing grew, I started participating in competitions and watching drawing shows on TV and YouTube. I learnt how to shade and draw characters.
I have won over 100 awards from national and international art competitions, and am recognised as creative star artist 2020 from Picasso.

I participated in this competition with 100 percent dedication. When this competition was announced, it was mentioned that results would be out on August 10, 2020. I was thrilled and was determined to win this, because August 10 is my birthday.

Aron and his illustration

Every year, I used to get many birthday gifts from my grandmother. Last year, she passed away, so I prayed to her to help me win the Ickabog competition for this birthday. And it happened. This was her gift to me this year.

I was really thrilled when the results were announced. I called my friends and relatives to share the happy moment. In late October, I received my copy of the book signed by JK Rowling.

I felt really blessed to receive this book from the best writer in the world. I won the competition for my artwork of the title character, the Ickabog. Now I feel more confident about doing better illustrations.

TM & © J.K. Rowling 2020

First published in eShe’s December 2020 issue

1 comment on “Meet the Indian Children Who Illustrated JK Rowling’s New Book ‘The Ickabog’

  1. Harshitha.k

    My favorite book is ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus zusak
    I love how it was told from the perspective death,how it seemed very real and alive and it was funny and poignant without being too WW2 heavy. Certainly it is one of my favorite book.

    Liked by 1 person

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