Scholastic to Publish ‘Year of the Jungle,’ an Autobiographical Picture Book by Suzanne Collins in Fall 2013
[PRESS RELEASE] New York, NY (November 29, 2012) Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, today announced the publication of Year of the Jungle (September 10, 2013), an autobiographical picture book by Suzanne Collins, author of the worldwide bestselling The Hunger Games trilogy, with illustrations by James Proimos. Scholastic also announced plans to publish the trade paperback edition of Catching Fire (June 4, 2013, ISBN: 978-0-545-58617-7, $12.99), as well as re-packaged paperback editions of Collins’s bestselling The Underland Chronicles, a five-book series about Gregor the Overlander, featuring all new cover art (Summer 2013). Scholastic will publish and deliver the books through all of its distribution channels.
Year of the Jungle ($17.99, ISBN: 978-0-545-42516-2), to be published on September 10, 2013, is an autobiographical picture book for ages 4 and up, based on the year Suzanne Collins’s father served in Viet Nam. The book is illustrated by James Proimos, an acclaimed picture book author-artist and television writer/animator. Longtime friends, Collins credits Proimos for initially suggesting she write books for children while they were working in children’s television together.
In Year of the Jungle, when young Suzy’s father leaves for Viet Nam, she struggles to deal with his absence. What is the jungle like? Will her father be safe? When will he return? The months slip by, marked by the passing of the familiar holidays and the postcards that her father sends. With each one, he feels more and more distant, and when he returns, Suzy must learn that even though war has changed him, he still loves her just the same.
“The Underland Chronicles, with its fantasy world and eleven-year old protagonist, Gregor, was designed for middle readers,” said Suzanne Collins. “The Hunger Games Trilogy features a teen narrator, Katniss Everdeen, and a stark dystopian backdrop for the YA audience. Year of the Jungle attempts to reach the picture book readers by delving into my own experience as a first grader with a father deployed in Viet Nam.”
“One of the things Suzanne has done so masterfully in The Hunger Games and The Underland Chronicles is to give readers an honest portrayal of the effects of war,” said David Levithan, VP, Publisher & Editorial Director, Scholastic. “Now she has done it for a younger age group, 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.”
About the origins of Year of the Jungle, 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 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.”
“I had decided that I would not draw a single thing for a year and concentrate only on my writing,” said James Proimos. “In fact, I told this to Suzanne only minutes before she asked me to illustrate her next book. How could I refuse? The idea she laid out over burritos and ice 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. Luckily, my brain is very much in touch with my first grade self and my art skills have never left that general vicinity.”
About The Hunger Games
First published in September 2008, The Hunger Games was an instant bestseller, appealing to both teen readers and adults. It has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 200 consecutive weeks since publication, and has been the recipient of countless awards. Scholastic has more than 50 million copies of the original three books in The Hunger Games trilogy in print and digital formats in the U.S. (more than 23 million copies of The Hunger Games; more than 14 million copies of Catching Fire; and more than 13 million copies of Mockingjay). Foreign publishing rights for The Hunger Games trilogy have been sold into 56 territories in 51 languages to date.
Lionsgate released The Hunger Games movie on March 23, 2012, shattering multiple box office records to become the 13th highest grossing film of all time domestically, with more than $700 million at the box office worldwide. Following the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on November 22, 2013, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II are scheduled for respective November 21, 2014 and November 20, 2015 releases.
About The Underland Chronicles
The Underland Chronicles is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling five-book fantasy series for middle-grade readers following young Gregor as he goes through a grate in the laundry room of his New York City apartment building and hurtles into the Underland, an underground city where humans live beside giant spiders, bats, cockroaches and rats in a fragile peace. With the Underland on the brink of war, Gregor finds himself on a quest for his missing father. The series explores various war-related topics, including military intelligence, biological warfare, and genocide. With more than 2.5 million books in print and digital formats and foreign publishing rights sold into 16 foreign territories to date, The Underland Chronicles has received wide praise both in the U.S. and abroad. The series includes Gregor the Overlander (2003), Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (2004), Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods (2005), Gregor and the Marks of Secret (2006), and Gregor and the Code of Claw (2007).
About Suzanne Collins
Suzanne Collins has had a successful and prolific career writing for children’s television on such shows as Clarissa Explains It All, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo and Wow Wow Wubbzy. She made her mark in children’s literature with the New York Times bestselling five-book series for middle-grade readers The Underland Chronicles. Collins continued to explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age in the award-winning and bestselling The Hunger Games trilogy. In 2010 Collins was named to the TIME 100 list as well as the Entertainment Weekly Entertainers of the Year list. In 2011 Fast Company named her to their 100 Most Creative People in Business. She lives with her family in Connecticut.
About James Proimos
James Proimos is the author and illustrator of more than 20 books for children including The Best Bike Ride Ever and Knuckle and Potty Destroy Happy World, as well as Joe’s Wish, Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel, Todd’s TV, and his first novel for teens called 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn. James Proimos also is the author and illustrator of Swim! Swim! (Scholastic Press), under the pseudonym “Lerch.” Proimos began his career in advertising where he won several CLIO awards, and before writing books for young people he worked in children’s entertainment writing screenplays and creating television shows. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his family.
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at www.scholastic.com.