Humboldt youth’s illustration featured in J.K. Rowling novel

HUMBOLDT — A local youth is one of 34 worldwide that will see her illustration published in J.K. Rowling’s new fairy tale.

Breanna Michel of Humboldt is one of nine Canadians who won a competition to have their  illustrations featured in the physical version of The Ickabog.

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“It feels really great and I like some of the other illustrations,” Michel said. “They're very beautiful. They're very pretty.”

In the kingdom of Cornucopia, a fearsome creature – the Ickabog – lives far up north, in the marshes.

“Some say it breathes fire, spits poison, and roars through the mist as it carries off wayward sheep and children alike. Some say it’s just a myth,” said the book’s website.

It’s up to two children, best friends Bert and Daisy, to go on an adventure, untangle the myths and find out the truth about the Ickabog.

Rowling released chapters of the story online for children stuck at home thanks to lockdowns aimed at containing the COVID-19 pandemic. The chapters have since been taken down.

Michel learned about the competition from her cousin. She decided to read the story online.

“I found a part that I really enjoyed, and that I saw something that I felt I could draw, and I felt I could do a really good job on.”

The scene Michel chose was of Daisy getting kidnapped, showing the character trapped in a wagon as it went down the city streets. Michel said it was a scene she liked.

“I liked it, because there was a lot of detail and it led me to a lot of predictions. Like what was going to happen next and why this was happening.”

Michel entered the competition. Eventually, she heard back that it was between her and another person’s illustration for that particular chapter. She then found out she won.

“I was really happy and I was really excited because I love JK Rowling's books. I love her Harry Potters,” adding later the first one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is her favourite

“It’s very mystical and very creative and it's very detailed. And it's all about the wizarding world.”

Michel received two copies of The Ickabog, one of which was signed by Rowling. Her school, Muenster School, will also receive $650 worth of books.

Rowling first wrote The Ickabog between 2003 and 2007, reading each chapter to her children each night when she worked on it.

“However, when the time came to publish it, I decided to put out a book for adults instead, which is how The Ickabog ended up in the attic,” she wrote on the book’s website.

Over the years, Rowling said she thought of the story as something that was between her and her children. Then the pandemic, along with the lockdowns aimed at containing its growth, happened.

“It was very hard on children in particular, so I brought The Ickabog down from the attic, read it for the first time in years, rewrote bits of it and then decided to publish it online for children stuck at home.”

The net royalties from the book will be going to Rowling’s charitable trust to help medical and frontline charities supporting vulnerable groups impacted by COVID-19.

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