Scholastic, the big children’s book publisher, announced last week that Suzanne Collins, the author of the wildly successful “Hunger Games” trilogy, has written Year of the Jungle , a forty-page autobiographical picture book for young children that is based on the experiences of her father, a U.S. Air Force Vietnam veteran.
The book, Collins’s first since the last of dystopian “The Hunger Games” trilogy came out two years ago, will by published next September. The new book is aimed at children as young as four. James Proimos is the book’s illustrator.
Something like 50 million copies of the “Hunger Games” books are in print. The movie of same name—the first of four planned for the series—has grossed more than a half a billion dollars since it was released in March.
As for the new book, Collins said that she had been thinking about writing something based on her father’s Vietnam War tour and her reaction to it 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, ” Collins said in a statement released by her publisher . “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.’”