Ickabog Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Why do Daisy and Bert stop being friends? Would you end a friendship over a similar issue?

    Daisy and Bert were friends since they were infants, and they are best friends in early elementary school. However, trouble erupts between them when Daisy is mourning the death of her mother, who died as a result of being worked too hard by King Fred whilst she was sick. One day when Daisy insults the king, Bert sticks up for him in front of other students. Daisy wants her best friend to be on her side, and he is not. Daisy's anger bubbles over and she slaps Bert, and a fight ensues, which makes Daisy feel even more betrayed. When Bert is given a medal of honor for sticking up for King Fred, even he knows that his behavior was a betrayal of his friend, demonstrated through him hiding the medal when he sees Daisy. Though both friends miss each other after this, they seem to feel that their friendship will never be the same. It is only when they meet in very different circumstances as teenagers that they are able to forgive one another.

    Responses regarding the subjective follow-up question will vary. Students may feel that Bert not supporting Daisy was worth ending their friendship. Other students may sympathize with Bert's confusion over how to support a grieving friend.

  2. 2

    Compare and contrast The Ickabog with JK Rowling's famous Harry Potter series.

    On The Ickabog website, JK Rowling writes in her introduction to The Ickabog, "It isn’t Harry Potter and it doesn’t include magic. This is an entirely different story." Jk Rowling clearly wants to create a contrast between her works. This can also be seen by the fact that she states this book is not for adolescents like the Harry Potter series, but rather is intended for children around 7-9 years old.

    However, there are also many similarities between the works. Both The Ickabog and Harry Potter include characters who are orphan children, which makes the reader feel sympathetic and forces the children to act bravely and independently. Another similarity is that girls are shown to be just as brave and intelligent as boys. Finally, though there is not magic in The Ickabog, both The Ickabog and Harry Potter would be classified as fantasy stories, as both include imaginary lands and fictional monsters.

  3. 3

    What was the effect of The Ickabog being published chapter by chapter online?

    Before being published as a book, The Ickabog was released chapter by chapter online. There is a long history of publishing books chapter by chapter, also known as serial or serialized books. Some common features of serialized books is that they consist of a great deal of chapters, they may be repetitive, they keep readers coming back through use of suspense, and they may employ exaggeration. Rowling knew she would be publishing the Ickabog online over the course of multiple months, so that may have factored into her decision to write a book containing over 50 short chapters and to use suspense at the end of many of the chapters so that readers would come back to the site the next day to keep reading.

  4. 4

    In what ways did The Ickabog particularly resonate at the time of its publication?

    JK Rowling has stated that she began writing The Ickabog in the early 2010's when her two younger children (ages 15 and 17 at the time of The Ickabog's publication in 2020) were young. Rowling's social commentary throughout the story thus reflects her views on society in the 2010's. Further, Rowling chose to publish The Ickabog online in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic intersected with other global issues such as rapid climate change, rampant racial and socioeconomic inequality, xenophobia, and a rise of fascist and populist leaders in many countries. The Ickabog resonates with many of these issues by showing how selfish, oppressive leaders can quickly turn a happy, thriving society into a place of fear, poverty, and isolation. Furthermore, a theme that would resonate with many young children reading the story in 2020 is experiencing or fearing the death of one's parents. Over 500,000 people had died of COVID-19 by the end of The Ickabog's serial publication in July 2020, meaning many of Rowling's young readers likely lost a parent or knew of a child who had.

  5. 5

    How is imagery used in The Ickabog?

    Imagery is used in The Ickabog to make the setting and characters in the story vivid and exciting. This is particularly important to The Ickabog for two reasons. First, it is a book for children, who are highly engaged by descriptions using the five senses. Second, as a serialized book, Rowling had to make the setting and characters stick in readers' minds over a long period of time. Rowling often used exaggerated descriptions and figurative language to make a reader feel like they are really experiencing the scene in the story. For example, when the king and his party enter the marsh while searching for the Ickabog, Rowling writes, "Within seconds, it was as though each of the king’s party was wearing a thick white blindfold. The fog was so dense they couldn’t see their own hands in front of their faces. The mist smelled of the foul marsh, of brackish water and ooze. The soft ground seemed to shift beneath their feet as many of the men turned unwisely on the spot." This quote uses the senses of sight, smell, and touch, as well as figurative language by comparing the men's impeded vision to wearing a thick blindfold. From this description, the reader understands how afriad and unsettled the king and his soldier's were feeling.