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.
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.
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