No, Suzanne Collins’ next book is not going to revisit Panem and Katniss Everdeen, but like The Hunger Games, it will focus on a young girl dealing with the harsh realities of war. Scholastic announced today that it will release Year of the Jungle, an autobiographical picture book, on Sept. 10, 2013. Illustrated by James Proimos, the book centers on Suzy, who must cope with her father’s absence as he serves in Vietnam. She counts down the days until her father’s return, and when he finally comes back, Suzy finds that the war has changed him but he loves her all the same. In a press release, Collins explained the inspiration behind Year of the Jungle:
For several years I had this little wicker basket next to my writing chair with the postcards my dad had sent me from Vietnam and photos of that year. But I could never quite find a way into the story. It has elements that can be scary for the audience and it would be easy for the art to reinforce those. It could be really beautiful art but still be off-putting to a kid, which would defeat the point of doing the book. Then one day I was having lunch with Jim and telling him about the idea and he said, ‘That sounds fantastic.’ I looked at him and I had this flash of the story through his eyes, with his art. It was like being handed a key to a locked door. So, I just blurted out, ‘Do you want to do it?’ Fortunately he said yes. That afternoon, on the train ride home, the book started unfolding in my head. There’s a natural humor and sense of fun to his drawing style that makes the story approachable. As the emotional life of the main character evolves into darker places, the pictures beautifully keep pace with it, but they never lose that Proimos quality. His art made telling the story possible.
The publisher promises that Year of the Jungle will be suitable for a much younger audience than The Hunger Games and will depict war in a way that is “sympathetic rather than scary, relatable rather than raw.”
Scholastic also announced today the release of the new trade paperback edition of Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire, slated for a June 4 release, and re-packaged editions of Collins’ The Underland Chronicles, also slated for Summer 2013.
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