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Belfast pupil's delight at helping to illustrate JK Rowling book

Shannon's fairytale art chosen from 18,000 entries around the world


Excited: Shannon Rutherford with her illustration for JK Rowling’s new book

Excited: Shannon Rutherford with her illustration for JK Rowling’s new book

Excited: Shannon Rutherford with her illustration for JK Rowling’s new book

A Belfast student says she's overjoyed after being picked to help illustrate JK Rowling's new fairytale, The Ickabog.

Shannon Rutherford (11), a pupil at Lagan College in Belfast, was one of 34 young artists from around the world chosen by Scholastic to provide illustrations for the Harry Potter author's first children's book in 13 years.

The Ickabog, which is being published on Tuesday, is the bestselling author's first children's book since the Harry Potter series.

It was released chapter-by-chapter over lockdown.

Children were offered the chance to submit an illustration to be printed in the final book with two entries from Northern Ireland among the 34 winners.

The winners, whittled down from 18,000 entries, came from across the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India and range in age from seven to 12. This summer, Rowling (55) shared the personal family favourite, which she wrote over 10 years ago as a bedtime story for her younger children, to help entertain children, parents and carers confined to home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Keen for children to be involved as the story unfolded, the author then invited them to illustrate her story, and be inspired by a host of colourful characters and a fast-paced plot as it appeared online.

Shannon and the other 33 winners have each been awarded a copy of the published book containing their artwork, signed by JK Rowling.

She'll also receive £500 worth of Hachette/Scholastic children's books for a school or public library of her choice and in Shannon's case that's her old primary school - Lough View Integrated.

"I feel so pleased that I won a competition doing something that I love; especially as it is for 'THE' JK Rowling!" Shannon told the Belfast Telegraph.

The story involves the Ickabog, a creature as tall as two horses and with the ability to speak and make fire, and a nearby kingdom that imposes a harsh tax to pay for a defence against the creature. When four teenagers from the kingdom run into the Ickabog, they discover it is not the monster they feared, and race to reveal the truth to their countrymen.

"I loved the way JK Rowling created a whole new imaginary world with different cities and the fact that each city was famous for its own food," Shannon added.

"I loved the creativity and imagination in the book.

"I wouldn't often read books like this but it has made me want to read more.

"I was inspired by one of the last instalments of the book.

"It meant I started drawing quite late and was worried that I might not get finished in time.

"I choose to illustrate the fire because I thought I could turn a simple thing like a fire into more than that and create the warmth that a fire can bring to a room, especially a royal room," she said.

Proud mum Lynne said the competition has made Shannon realise her artistic talent and given her a desire to develop her skill of drawing.

"After being shortlisted Shannon said she didn't even mind if she didn't win. She just loved that it gave her something fun and exciting to do during lockdown after being encouraged to take part by her former teachers at Lough View especially Mr McKeefry and Mr McCarroll and principal, Mr Spillane," Lynne added.

Shannon said finally finding out her entry had made the cut was "super exciting".

"It's amazing to see my drawing the book and I love it.

"My friends are all really happy and amazed that I won. It feels really good," she added.

JK Rowling is donating her proceeds from the book to vulnerable groups particularly affected by Covid-19.

Belfast Telegraph