Par - JK Rowling

Lorsqu'un roi maladroit laisse ses conseillers maléfiques prendre le contrôle de son royaume, les conseillers utilisent des rumeurs pour effrayer les gens et les amener à se soumettre. Deux meilleurs amis, cependant, refusent de laisser la pression les forcer à faire la mauvaise chose et élaborent un plan pour révéler la vérité à la place. L'auteur JK Rowling revient avec une histoire qui rappellera à tout le monde pourquoi son écriture a eu un impact si énorme avec son nouveau travail L'Ickabog.

In the kingdom of Cornucopia, King Fred the Fearless is loved by everyone. Well, as far as he knows. The kingdom runs so well on its own that he really doesn’t have to do much other than make appearances to his adoring constituents and go hunting with his two best friends, Lord Spittleworth and Lord Flapoon.

Spittleworth et Flapoon vivent dans le palais avec le roi où ils passent tous la plupart de leur temps à s'entendre sur la merveille de Fred. A la nouvelle de la visite d'un roi d'un royaume voisin, Fred ordonne de confectionner au plus vite une nouvelle tenue pour l'occasion. Bien qu'elle soit malade, la couturière en chef coud l'uniforme majestueux et tombe morte le matin où elle le termine.

Fred feels a niggle of guilt for demanding the seamstress’s speed, but Spittleworth and Flapoon reassure him he did nothing wrong. His guilt grows when he hears that Daisy, the seamstress’s daughter, called him selfish, vain, and cruel. To prove that he’s not any of those things, Fred goes on a quest to save Cornucopia from the Ickabog.

La légende raconte que l'Ickabog reste près des marais du côté nord de la corne d'abondance. Contrairement à d'autres parties du royaume, les marais sont un endroit difficile à vivre. Fred sait que c'est probablement exagéré, étant donné la fréquence à laquelle ses amis le félicitent pour l'état du royaume, et entreprend de vaincre l'Ickabog une fois pour toutes.

Des complications surviennent lorsque le groupe chasse L'Ickabog perd un de ses membres. Pour dissimuler le terrible accident, Lord Spittleworth commence à tisser une toile de mensonges pour convaincre d'abord Fred, puis les habitants du royaume que L'Ickabog est une terreur à craindre. Fred commence à céder petit à petit le contrôle à Spittleworth et Flapoon, leur permettant de taxer les Cornucopiens et d'annoncer de nouvelles lois strictes. Bientôt, le royaume heureux devient un lieu de vie usé, fatigué et sombre.

Daisy, the seamstress’s daughter, refuses to accept the circumstances, however. Even though her father is imprisoned and she’s thrown into an orphanage, Daisy fights against the system. Her best friend, Bert, starts digging through all the murky facts to find out the truth. Although their friendship is tested and even ceases at some points, the two manage to find their way back to one another again in time to make a shocking discovery that may just save all of Cornucopia after all.

Author J.K. Rowling returns to children’s literature for the first time in more than a decade. Between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and L'Ickabog, Rowling has written several novels for adults under a pen name. This latest release shows how much the world of children’s literature could benefit from her return to it.

L'Ickabog is reminiscent of old fairy tales, offering tried-and-true life lessons: too much pride almost guarantees a great downfall; compromising with a bully doesn’t yield true friendship; be willing to look past differences to find what’s common underneath. An omniscient narrator tells the story, offering readers confidence that all will (most likely) be well by the end. Like the original fairy tales, however, the dangers to get to that end are real and, for some characters, irreversible.

In a foreword, Rowling shares that she wrote this novel in between drafts of the Harry Potter books. All of her concentration at the time was on the boy wizard, and she didn’t think much of this story until the pandemic hit this year. She took out The Ickabog, polished it, and began posting it in installments online for children to read while stuck at home.

The richness of Rowling’s world and the sharp wit of her narration will make older readers and adults smile. Younger readers may not fully absorb the parallels between the story and current world events, but the lessons are good ones all the same. While some might seem a little on-the-nose, readers might find it refreshing to see these lessons set down in black and white.

There are almost too many characters to keep track of. Lord Flapoon, in particular, disappears at points while Lord Spittleworth schemes to keep his pockets full. As a book, it’s not the most polished effort but it’s perfect for reading aloud and sharing with the family.