The Christmas Pig: New Rowling Story

A change to the Rowling Twitter header, followed by a joking retweet that was erased (and then reposted), ended this morning with the announcement of the 12 October publication of a new children’s story by J. K. Rowling, The Christmas Pig. From the website page:

The Christmas Pig is a heartwarming, page-turning adventure about one child’s love for his most treasured toy, and how far he will go to find it.  It’s a standalone story, unrelated to any of J.K. Rowling’s previous work, and is suitable for children 8+: a tale for the whole family to fall in love with.

Jack loves his childhood toy, Dur Pig.  DP has always been there for him, through good and bad.  Until one Christmas Eve something terrible happens – DP is lost.  But Christmas Eve is a night for miracles and lost causes, a night when all things can come to life – even toys…  And Jack’s newest toy – the Christmas Pig (DP’s annoying replacement) – has a daring plan:  Together they’ll embark on a magical journey to seek something lost, and to save the best friend Jack has ever known…

The Presence returned to Twitter after five months of silence with a change to her header and a retweet, that according to friends in the UK and Argentina was posted then taken down only to appear again. Here are the new header and that tweet:

Three Quick Notes:

(1) Perhaps the most encouraging news is that the first fifty comments made by twitter followers to Rowling’s return to posting included only two references to the transgender kerfuffle vis a vis Maya Forstater’s appeal this month and both were supportive of Rowling’s position. The ‘Welcome Back!’ and ‘We Missed You!’ memes were the rule without exception. I expect that will change as word spreads about The Christmas Pig but this opening salvo sans nastiness is a very positive change for the better.

(2) I don’t think this means Rowling has returned to regular tweeting, in fact, I would be astonished and very disappointed if it did mean this. That her response to Mhairi W went out, came down, and was reposted suggests some real hesitance to re-enter the social media game. I’m hopeful that this tweet to her more than 14 million followers was the exception made to serve the obvious marketing expectation from her publishers rather than a joyful reentry into the nether world of the Twitterati and the Ideological Twits. I think all of her fans prefer new stories, screenplays, and novels, the fruit of her focus on her vocation as author, to her endless and unedifying engagement with social media trolls and tweeters.

(3) I have been sitting on a post about the confusing comments Rowling has made about the genesis of The Ickabog through the years, from its being her next project in 2007 and all but done a few years later to an item in the attic she dusted off for the Covid lockdown pande-mania. I hope that Nick Jeffery will explain in a Guest Post or in the comment thread below how the announcement of this new story creates a reasonable alternative to my pet theory, based on Rowling’s contradictory statements about a children’s story for close to fifteen years, that The Ickabog publication was only rowled out (sic) last summer as a fire break to all the negative transgender controversy publicity, a necessary sop to public opinion to smooth the way for Troubled Blood’s publication in September.

A new story by year’s end! Hurrah!



  1. Beatrice Groves says

    Delighted to see a new work coming out and interested by this comment in the press release:

    The Christmas Pig is J.K. Rowling’s first children’s novel since Harry Potter, and follows her brilliant return to publishing for children with last year’s fairy tale The Ickabog,

    It suggests that Pig will be longer (a ‘novel’ rather than a mere ‘fairy tale’) than the Ickabog, which was already much more substantial than I was expecting.

  2. After giving it some thought, the main contents of this article leave me with a question. Has J.K. Rowling ever read a book known as “Roverandom”? If the name is unfamiliar, then it’s really no fault when the audience doesn’t have that much of a say in the matter. It’s just one of those things that happen when a work of fiction falls through the cracks of memory. The book is one of a number of lesser known (and hence less explored) children’s stories written by J.R.R. Tolkien. I almost wrote that it is one of his rare stories with no apparent connection to his more famous Middle Earth legendarium. However, one or two plot elements (i.e. the Man in the Moon, a Magic Cottage of Dreams, and one or two important Dragons) force me to sort of treat it as a possible door that should, at best, be left open a bit more.

    Tolkien’s posthumous book narrates the adventures of a scruffy young mutt of a pup who finds himself turned into a pocket-sized toy dog when he makes the mistake of biting a passing wizard, instead of just the mailman. From there, the rest of the narrative details his exploits on the road to winning back his rightful personhood. Or maybe animal or doghood is what some will maintain is the more appropriate term. The trick there is that Jennifer Marchant is one of the few critics who looks on this forgotten saga as an allegory of the death and rebirth of the soul, what, in another sense may be termed a story about the question, and possible development of character. It’s a topic that, so far, has proven to be at pretty much the entire heart and soul of everything Rowling has ever seen fit to place on the page. For the record, Marchant’s essay can be read in its entirety over at the Mythopoeic Society:

    The reason I bring this earlier Tolkien composition up at all is down to a lot of the description provided by Rowling’s press release. It makes the nature of the story sound very familiar, for some reason. On one level, what I think can be said with any degree of certainty is that the tale itself probably fits into a very specific subgenre of children’s fantasy. The best label I can either give or find for the narrative type I’m thinking of is that of the “Living Doll” story. It’s a lot older than Rowling, and probably has its best literary displays in the short stories and fables of the Victorian Era (though it is just possible that its roots go even further back). I do recall reading at least one story by Edith Nesbit where the action is told from the viewpoint of a little girl’s doll. Then of course, there are classics of the subgenre such as “The Velveteen Rabbit”, and perhaps A.E. Milne’s Hundred Acre Woods books. Meanwhile, a lot who are reading this are probably flashing immediately to films like “Toy Story”. Though some out there may still recall earlier gems like “Pinocchio”.

    However, there is at least one aspect of the description given of Rowling’s new book that provides an interesting sort of link with Tolkien’s “Roverandom”. Her protagonist is described as having two dolls, Dur Pig and Christmas. Right away, that’s the one plot point that stands out from all the rest. What the reader is given is a pair of similar characters, or literary doubles, inhabiting the course of the same story. In other words, it could be that the narrative will center on the subject of doppelgangers. It’s a topic that’s been given plenty of space here on HogPro, and what it has to do with a book like “Roverandom” is that the possibility exists that Rowling “might” be taking a leaf from one of her most carefully hidden literary influences.

    In his own story, Tolkien has his protagonist paired with not one, but two different dogs, each of whom bears the same name as the main character. Hence the reason he is given the moniker of Roverandom to help distinguish him from both a moon dog and a merman, or sea dog, respectively. This seems to be as far as I can take any real speculation. However, the key point to maintain is that there is at least the potential for a Tolkien story to serve as a model for one written by Rowling. The Oxford professor tells his tale in a more or less straightforward fashion, letting the protagonist get into various scrapes, and then learning from his mistakes, and growing on from there. If we can assume that Rowling will be drawing on this particular narrative for inspiration, then it raises the possibility of how she might be able to emulate a lot Tolkien’s themes while finding ways of turning the narrative itself on its head. Then again, there’s always the chance that none of this will happen. I said this is all just a “possibility”.

    What makes me suggest “Roverandom” as a possible source, or influence for “The Christmas Pig” is just the number of plot elements and themes that seem to find echoes in the description provided for this new novel. Another factor is that the “Rover” text contains more than just one JKR source. In addition to Tolkien as the author, the story itself features a creature known as a Sand Fairy, and one of the author’s notes refers to this figure as a Psammead. Sharp eyed readers will be able to spot what Tolkien has done. He’s taken a character first featured in a trilogy by E. Nesbit, and created another specimen of the same species for his own narrative. Thus Tolkien has set up a literary allusion and reference to the work of another author that Rowling loves in what I think comes off as very deliberate move on his part. The result is that we have a text featuring two of the primary figures in Rowling’s mental compost heap. It remains to be seen whether these echoes will be contained in the final product.

  3. Bonni Crawford says

    Apparently it’s 50,000 words (according to The Bookseller website – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was 76,944 words (according to so it’s about two thirds the length of that. I don’t know how many words the Ickabog was but I guess substantially fewer, if it doesn’t qualify as a ‘novel’.

  4. Joanne Gray says

    I’m afraid I’m very much of the same mind as Mhairi W’s comment to JKR’s change of her Twitter header. I had also thought that if she ever changed it again that it would be to once again give us a hint of what she was working on. Being a big Strike fan I assumed (and I know I shouldn’t) that it would be changed to show us a glimpse into Strike Book 6 as she had done with previous books 4 and 5.

    The new Twitter header did turn out to be good news, but of a different sort. A new children’s book, The Christmas Pig. I am glad that she is continuing to write for children–but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it would make me even happier if we could have a little bit of her previous “authorized” information to underpin our musings on the Strike series future books. Even though we have been given two facts so far: 1.) Book 6 takes place in 2015 (as we had assumed) and 2.) Strike will, at some time during that year, find himself in a crowded (busy) London bar. (Something we also assumed).

    So a bit sad that the header changed but we are still none the wiser of what we might see in book 6 (beyond the 2 facts from last year).

    I still hold out hope that we will receive at least a 3rd fact this year. A fact that will have some actual “meat” on its bones, i.e., a real piece of Book 6’s puzzle–even if only a very, very small piece. Fingers still crossed that Book 6 will come out in Fall 2022.

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