Today Scholastic announced the publication of Year of the Jungle, an autobiographical picture book by Suzanne Collins coming in Fall 2013, illustrated by acclaimed picture book author-artist and television writer/animator James Proimos. Year of the Jungle is for ages 4 and up and is based on the year Suzanne Collins’s father served in Viet Nam when she was in first grade.
Suzanne 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 [Proimos] 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.”
Careful readers of The Hunger Games might notice that the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy is dedicated to her longtime friend James Proimos, whom she credits for initially suggesting she write books for children while they were working in children’s television together. James said about the new book, “The idea she laid out over burritos and iced tea during our lunch was brilliant and not quite like any picture book I had ever come across. The writing is moving and personal. What Suzanne does so well here is convey complicated emotions through the eyes of a child. The art had to do the same. We did not want this to be the kind of book that grownups put on a shelf, but instead be the kind of book that a kid would want to read again and again.”Update about Catching Fire paperback edition:
Scholastic also announced plans to release the trade paperback edition of Catching Fire on June 4, 2013, as well as newly designed paperback editions of the widely acclaimed The Underland Chronicles series featuring all new cover art coming in Summer 2013!