Air Force Times By Oriana Pawlyk
Suzanne Collins, author of the nationally acclaimed trilogy "The Hunger Games," is on the move again with another military-inspired book - but this time, it's for kids.
Two years since the final book of "The Hunger Games" trilogy was released, and only a few months since the first film debuted, Collins is teaming up with picture-book author-artist James Proimos to create "Year of the Jungle," an autobiographical picture book for ages 4 and up, based on the year Collins' father - Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Collins - served in Vietnam.
"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. But I could never quite find a way into the story," Collins said in a Scholastic press release.
She said the story unfolded with Proimos' picture-book storyline, making the story more approachable for children.
According to Scholastic, "Year of the Jungle" tells a story of when young Suzy's father leaves for Vietnam, and she struggles to deal with his absence. She wonders about his safety and is anxious for his return. As time goes by, the postcards she receives from him seem more distant, and when he returns, Suzy must learn that even though war has changed him, he still loves her just the same.
According to a New York Times article, "Suzanne Collins's War Stories for Kids," some of Collins' earliest memories were of young men in uniform at West Point, where her father taught military history, and later became a lieutenant colonel for the Air Force.
Collins has spoken about living and traveling in a military family, acknowledging that her experience has been an influence and theme in her previous books. In a 2010 interview with The Associated Press, she explained that her father made a point of discussing war with his family.
"I believe he felt a great responsibility and urgency about educating his children about war," she said in the interview.
"He would take us frequently to places like battlefields and war monuments. It would start back with whatever had precipitated the war and moved up through the battlefield you were standing in and through that and after that. It was a very comprehensive tour guide experience."
David Levithan, the vice president and publisher and editorial director at Scholastic, said that "Year of the Jungle" portrays the effects of war in a way that is "sympathetic rather than scary, relatable rather than raw."
"This is something that Suzanne, as a military child, lived with for many years, and it's something that all families will be able to share, whether they have a personal connection to the military or not," he said.
"Year of the Jungle" is set to be published Sept. 10.