The next book out from Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, will tackle a theme familiar to fans of her hugely popular trilogy: war. But this time the battle won't take place in a dystopian fantasy — the war will be real, and it will be told... in pictures. Scholastic announced that Collins next book, Year of the Jungle, will be a picture book about her father's time in Vietnam. The story chronicles the experiences of "Suzy" while her father is away at war, and how he changes upon his return home. The picture book is due out in September 2013 and will be illustrated by Collins's "longtime friend" James Proimos.
In a statement, Collins explained her inspiration and how she was propelled by Proimos to follow through. "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," Collins said. "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." When having lunch with Proimos, she "had this flash of the story through his eyes, with his art."
Though the terms "picture book" and "war" don't sound like they go together, the combination makes sense for Collins, whose work so far has been heavily influenced by members of her family's experience serving. In a 2011 profile of Collins in the New York Times Magazine, Susan Dominus explained: "The lifelong repercussions of Collins’s father’s service in Vietnam also provided her with a perspective that fuels a key plot twist of 'Mockingjay,' which follows one character’s struggle to recover from tortured memories of violence." Dominus also wrote that Collins's father wished to educate the younger generation about war and its impact — something Collins herself does in The Hunger Games series.
Collins says it well herself in that profile: "I don’t write about adolescence," she told Dominus. "I write about war. For adolescents." For this new book, however, the intended age range is 4 and up.