The Ickabog


The Ickabog by JK Rowling sits on the bed on top of Bryan’s current read, Strange Harvest by Edward Posnett.

The Stars for Buttons book club chose The Ickabog for our April 2021 read--and it did not disappoint. All the things that I loved about Harry Potter exist in this fairytale of a charmed town plagued by an evil monster-- the monster, however, isn’t entirely what I expected.

I can’t decide what I like most about this story: the symbolism, the characters, the practical advice for a hurting world. It was all wonderful.

The Ickabog fairy-tales the ups and downs of a little kingdom known for their delicious pastries and overall good vibes. It appears no one suffers in Cornucopia--emphasis on appears. And King Fred is determined that his kingdom will always appear charmed and delighted, no matter what. This is Fred’s truest and harshest flaw: he sees the truth only when he wishes it so. King Fred’s choices to succumb to fear and seek council from the wiley and the weasels of Cornucopia lead his kingdom into despair.

Daisy and Bert, childhood friends separated by tragedy, reunite and try to save the whole of Cornucopia (including the always neglected and oppressed Marshlanders) to safety and comfort once again.

The Ickabog sits atop Bryan's current read, Strange Harvests.

I was reminded of Pixar’s Inside Out’s message of wholeness over happiness. Cornucopia masked their pain with treats, sunshine, and false comforts, but once fear crept in that fanciful lifestyle slipped away overnight. Daisy Dovetail’s journey from being loved by her parents with a comfortable home and comfortable friendships to being neglected and accused by her friends and government establish an unrelenting adventure of courage in truth. Daisy’s pain allows her to see beyond the manipulation and false comforts of Cornucopia and grounds herself in truth. Our own pursuits shouldn’t be only happiness, but instead wholeness. Our pain and our fears link us to our hopes and our joys.

The Ickabog confronts contemporary deceit in leadership and reiterates the message that we should always be asking why. We should always be learning about one another. The Marshlanders and the Ickabog monster, oppressed and neglected, to shape a kingdom’s overall happiness is not the story we should embrace, but instead we should embrace everyone’s wellbeing. No certain group should suffer for the frivolity of others, right?

I highly recommend this fast paced read with the most adorable illustrations. If you remember despising Umbridge more than Voldermort in the Harry Potter series, well you’ll latch on to that same bitter taste for one of the characters throughout the whole of the book. But, this story also has you rooting for Daisy and Bert (gosh even King Fred) through every twist and turn.

The Stars for Buttons gang awarded The Ickabog 4.8 stars (our highest so far). It was a real winner and best paired with pastries.

If you’re curious about our book club, you can check it out here 😁 We’d love to have ya!

Keeping hanging on,

Thank you so much for reading. I hope you pick up this adventure story for a quick weekend read :)

If this book sounds like your kind of book, you may also like this other book filled with quirky characters in an ostentatious setting during Christmas to cool off those small heat waves this summer. Or you might like this one, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg.