Welcome to ‘The Jungle’

After continuously discussing (and sometimes poking fun at) all the dark themes in The Hunger Games trilogy, we sometimes forget that Suzanne Collins has spent the majority of her career writing for children and middle grade audiences.

From Little Bear to Clarissa Explains it All to The Underland Chronicles, Suzanne has done a lot to educate and connect with younger generations. Now, she’s at it again with the autobiographical picture book Year of the Jungle, which will be released in Fall 2013.

Suzanne Collins Year of the Jungle Scholastic Children's Books

Year of the Jungle

Some people are disappointed, to say the least. They were hoping to get more Hunger Games-esque writing that they could spend several nights soaking in, but Suzanne went the children’s book route this time, meaning they’ll have to wait another couple years before the possibility of another YA book from Suzanne even pops up.

What these people don’t realize is that Year of the Jungle could be a pretty damn important book! Here’s why:

The Hunger Games trilogy and Year of the Jungle were both inspired by the same event in Suzanne’s life: Her father’s deployment to Vietnam when she was just seven years old. While The Hunger Games covers the life of the soldier whose choice to go into battle isn’t necessarily his or her own, Year of the Jungle promises to do something you almost never see in popular media. It gets down on children’s levels and talks to them about what it means to have a parent go to war. Without getting into the gore of physical or psychological warfare, it tells kids that it’s okay to be curious and concerned and scared about war. It admits that there’s a possibility that there will be very big changes in their lives, but they are not the reason for these changes. Above all, it gives them hope that despite the worry and changes and scary bits, they’ll still be okay in the end.

It’s something that many children can relate to these days. Though if they were the ones writing the book several years down the line, they’d probably call it Year of the Desert.

Remember all that time when we wondered where the hell Suzanne went? Looks like she was diving into this, at least for a chunk of it. To that, we say BRAVO! Suzanne is one of not-very-many authors qualified to discuss a child’s take on war on a personal level, so she can reach out to these children and lift up their spirits in ways that others can’t. Whether it was intentional or not, it’s great to see her use the experience to help.

I Kept Writing “Yeah of the Jungle”… I Blame My Accent,
The Girl With The Pearl

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2 comments

  1. I think war is such an important topic that I welcome this book as an opportunity to talk to my children about war, just as I will use The Hunger Games, when they are age-appropriate, as a springboard to talk to them about it and how war affects a country.

  2. I am very interested in this book, and whether it will succeed. I think some people have the mistaken idea that writing for small children is easier than writing for YA or adult audiences; it’s probably HARDER to do so, to tell your story and still keep is age-appropriate. And I’m of the belief that SC didn’t quite reach her target audience, especially the younger end of the YA audience, with Mockingjay. Many teenagers found it too boring and/or too depressing. So, I really hope she and the illustrator do a good job in reaching the core audience.

    Interesting, though, that in writing this book, SC is tackling the same issues that Katniss (and Peeta) are wrestling with at the end of MJ. How to tell their children about what happened in their pasts, why this affected them the way it did (since we know that Katniss still has “bad days”, and Peeta is most likely still having occasional flashbacks). And to do it in a way that doesn’t scare the daylights out of them, but “makes them brave”. So, I do give her kudos for taking this on!

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