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Year of the Jungle229
When Suzy's father is called to war in a faraway jungle, she struggles to deal with his absence. Why did her father have to go? When will he return? And will she even recognise him when he does? As the months go by, measured by the arrival of postcards and the passing of holidays, Suzy's father starts to feel further and further away. Suzanne Collins, the internationally bestselling author of the HUNGER GAMES series, has created a powerful and moving story based on her own childhood. With her signature ability to touch readers' hearts, combined with James Proimos's bright and friendly artwork, here is a book that will speak to any child who has had to spend time apart from a loved one
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"Collins, well known for her middle-school and YA fantasies, offers here a radical change of pace in this picture book story inspired by her own childhood, documenting the year young Suzy's father goes off to the Vietnam War. At first, the prospect doesn't sound all that bad to a rising first-grader with little grasp of time; how long could one year be? Additionally, Dad is headed for the jungle, and some of Suzy's favorite animals live (at least by her reckoning) in the jungle. A year turns out to be a very long time, though, especially when postcards come only sporadically, people's efforts at cheering her up only fill her with heretofore unconsidered anxieties, and Dad's brief missives seem increasingly distanced and confused. Theirs is a happy-ish ending--Dad does come home, although "he looks different. Tired and thin and his skin has turned the color of pancake syrup. . . . He stares into space. He is here but not here." Collins' text is simple, but it's rich in the telling details that establish the pervasive fear ("So many things are scary now") that spills over into other aspects of the little girl's life--getting a birthday card from Dad that should have gone to her sister, being showered with too much Halloween candy from a sympathetic neighbor, having a terrifying experience of being tossed into a local swimming pool. Proimos' ink-lined, digitally colored illustrations are the pitch-perfect tonal complement to Collins' narration, with the family portrayed as wide-eyed, childlike cartoons that carry on with daily life in crayon-bright hues, while young Suzy's angst-filled imaginings take shape in full-spread, full-bleed gray-tone scenes that twist her innocent favorite animals into recurrent nightmarish motifs and symbols of war. With text and illustrations that invite close reading, this will be a powerful title to share with children well beyond picture-book age. "- "The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books "starred review
Suzanne Collins is the author of the groundbreaking Hunger Games trilogy for young adults: "The Hunger Games," "Catching Fire," and "Mockingjay." She is also the author of an upcoming picture book, "Year of the Jungle," and the "New York Times" bestselling Underland Chronicles series for middle grade readers, which started with "Gregor the Overlander." Suzanne lives with her family in Connecticut. You can find her online at suzannecollinsbooks.com. James Proimos is the creator of "Swim! Swim!," "Knuckle and Potty Destroy Happy World," "12 Things to do Before You Crash and Burn," and many more books for children of all ages. He lives on a farm outside of Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife and their horses, cats, and dogs. Learn more at jamesproimos.blogspot.com.