Just in time for Christmas, there’s a new heartwarming page turner from one of the world’s greatest storytellers.
The Christmas Pig by JK Rowling tells the story of Jack, a boy who has lost his most cherished toy, Dur Pig (DP for short), a small toy pig made of the same material as a soft towel, with shiny black plastic eyes; the toy pig that Jack has loved since childhood.
But Christmas Eve is a night for miracles and lost causes, a night when all things can come alive – even toys. So when Jack gets a replacement pig – Christmas Pig, or CP for short – the adventure really begins.
The Christmas Pig takes Jack on a journey through the magical Land of the Lost, as we reveal in this exclusive clip alongside some of the book’s dazzling illustrations, drawn by the hugely popular artist Jim Field.
The Christmas pig appears tomorrow. But first, author JK Rowling reveals how this celebratory tale was inspired by the day her own son David, then three, accidentally found a replacement for his favorite pig toy while “sniffing around” in a closet. . .
A very personal story: an exclusive author Q&A with JK Rowling
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the story? What inspired you to write The Christmas Pig?
Although the story is made up, the first inspiration came from an actual toy, or rather, a pair of toys.
My son David’s favorite toy, I can’t go to bed without him when he was little, was a pig just like the one in the story, made of soft terry cloth and stuffed with belly beans (although the real toy isn’t called Dur Pig. That’s my invention).
David tended to hide this pig in all sorts of places, so bedtime was sometimes delayed while we tried to track down the pig. At one point I became so concerned that David would lose his pig for good that I bought a duplicate just in case.
The Christmas Pig will be published tomorrow in time for Christmas and here JK Rowling describes how the story was inspired by Son. Pictured: Rowling reads excerpts from her new book
One day, while three-year-old David was poking around in a closet, he accidentally found the replacement pig, declared it to be his original pig’s brother, and kept him too, so they’re both still with us.
The story was inspired by my fear that David would lose his beloved pig for good, and gradually I became interested in what it would mean to be a substitute toy, knowing that you could never quite be what the original was, in all are many associations and memories. Slowly, the Land of the Lost began to take shape.
Did you have a cherished toy growing up?
My Dur Pig equivalent was a large, blue-eyed, pink and white teddy bear, bought for me by my grandparents. I ended up naming him Henry, after one of the trains on Thomas The Tank Engine. He’s still with me, bald in places because of my habit of picking at his fur when I was very little.
Where did you write the story?
In my writing room in the garden, but I remember mapping the Land of the Lost while our family was on vacation. My kids were playing on the beach and I was crouching under an umbrella, drawing maps and thinking about the logistics of the world.
JK Rowling’s Christmas Pig (pictured) will be published tomorrow
How different was it to map out the Harry Potter series? Is there magic in The Christmas Pig?
I’m a great planner and I knew exactly what was going to happen, and where, and how before I started writing The Christmas Pig.
The Christmas Pig is a magical story, but in a very different way from Harry Potter. You enter a world that revolves around its own special magical laws, and there is magic around Christmas Eve, but there are no wands and wizards.
If you had to describe the character Jack in three words, what would those three words be? And what three words would those be for the Christmas pig?
Jack is brave, loving and a little lost, although he finds himself on his adventure with the Christmas pig, and I would describe CP in exactly the same way.
Have you lost things? What’s the worst thing you’ve ever lost?
I constantly lose things. It’s one of the things that irritates me the most about myself. The worst thing I ever lost was my mom’s engagement ring; It still makes me sad when I think about it.
Why do you think beloved toys and items are so important to children (and adults)?
Psychologists call these treasured toys “transitional objects,” which can calm children and act as a reassuring stand-in for a parent when needed.
However, that’s quite a clinical way of looking at it.
I see them as endowed with a certain kind of magic. They may come to us molded, but we recreate them in our own image, infusing them with characteristics of our own and idealized personalities.
We take care of them and they take care of us. That special bond is what I wanted to explore in the Christmas Pig.
Dive into the magical new world of JK Rowling now
By JK Rowling
With the word “lost,” everything vanished beneath Jack’s feet. He fell – or rather, slowly sinking – through the place where the floor should have been.
It was as if he was trapped in a thick substance that he couldn’t feel or see. The tree lights were gone: everything was inky black.
“Christmas pig?” cried Jack in panic.
“I’m here,” the Christmas Pig’s voice came from the darkness. ‘Do not worry! This is how you enter the Land of the Lost! It’s getting so light!’
Sure enough, within seconds Jack could see the Christmas Pig again. Like Jack, he floated down.
Their surroundings gradually brightened until Jack realized they were both sinking through their own column of golden light. Above them were two round holes in a wooden ceiling that Jack thought must be the floor of the world they’d left behind—his world, where Mama lived, where everything he knew existed.
Rowling Says The Christmas Pig Is A Magical Story But In A Very Different Way From Harry Potter
They sank down, down, down, and now Jack found that he and the Christmas Pig were far from the only Things slowly sinking through their columns of light. There were thousands and thousands. Weightless Jack could twist and turn, and in every direction he saw more sinking Things.
Closest to Jack were a teaspoon, a shiny red bauble, a dog whistle, a pair of artificial teeth, a glove puppet, a shiny coin, a long tinsel, a camera, a screwdriver, a plane ticket, sunglasses, a single sock, a teddy bear and a roll of wrapping paper with a reindeer pattern.
“You wouldn’t think it was possible, would you?” shouted the wrapping paper to Jack. One of the reindeer on her surface was talking and blinking. ‘The third time she’s lost me tonight! I rolled under the radiator… she’s panicking… left the pack too late, as usual!’
The paper roll had only just spoken these words when it changed direction and began to travel up, rather than down, to the hole in the ceiling. When she got out of sight, the wrapping paper yelled, “Yay, she found me! Good luck! I hope you’re back Up Top soon!’
Jack didn’t answer because he was amazed at everything that was happening around him and especially what he could see from the floor below.
At first he thought he was looking at a carpet of many different colors, but as he sank further he realized that the carpet was actually millions of Things.
Frightened, he looked around the floor for the Loser, but as he had no idea what the Loser looked like, he couldn’t tell if he was there or not.
The lower Jack sank, the louder the sound: Things on the floor chattered and chattered and jingled and rustled, until the sound was almost deafening.
As their surroundings got even brighter, Jack realized he was in a gigantic building like a warehouse, with immense brick walls and many holes in the wooden ceiling.
The Things that had reached the floor, the rubber balls and diaries, the paper clips and tape measures, the cameras, pens and purses, were all babbling in their groups.
Jack was so captivated by everything he saw that his landing took him by surprise. His bare feet touched the warm wooden floor and the Christmas Pig landed beside him, in a path between a mass of jingling keys and an army of rustling umbrellas.
“We need a ticket,” said the Christmas Pig firmly. ‘Come on.’
n From JK Rowling’s The Christmas Pig, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Hachette Children’s Group, on 12 October 2021 @ £20. © JK Rowling 2021.
The Christmas Pig is a registered trademark. Illustrations by Jim Field. Photography Debra Hurford Brown © JK Rowling.