Scholastic announced today the September 10, 2013 publication of Year of the Jungle, an autobiographical picture book by Suzanne Collins, author of the worldwide bestselling The Hunger Games trilogy, with illustrations by James Proimos.

Year of the Jungle will be an autobiographical picture book for ages 4 and up, based on the year Suzanne Collins’s father served in Viet Nam. The book is illustrated by Proimos, an acclaimed picture book author-artist and television writer/animator.

According to the release, in Year of the Jungle, when young Suzy’s father leaves for Viet Nam, she struggles to deal with his absence. What is the jungle like? Will her father be safe? When will he return? The months slip by, marked by the passing of the familiar holidays and the postcards that her father sends. With each one, he feels more and more distant, and when he returns, Suzy must learn that even though war has changed him, he still loves her just the same.

In this book club interview with Collins from 2009, the author of the The Hunger Games trilogy, discusses the larger themes at work behind three books in the series, including her experiences dealing with the fear of her own father fighting in the Vietnam War.

In the press release announcing Year of the Jungle, Collins explains:

“For several years I had this little wicker basket next to my writing chair with the postcards my dad had sent me from Viet Nam 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.”

 

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