Year of the Jungle: Memories from the Home Front [NOOK Book]

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Suzanne Collins has created a deeply moving autobiographical picture book about a father who must go off to the war in Vietnam -- and the daughter who stays behind.

When young Suzy's father leaves for Vietnam, she struggles to understand what this means for her and her family. 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 ...
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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Suzanne Collins has created a deeply moving autobiographical picture book about a father who must go off to the war in Vietnam -- and the daughter who stays behind.

When young Suzy's father leaves for Vietnam, she struggles to understand what this means for her and her family. 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, until Suzy isn't sure she'd even recognize her father anymore.

This heartfelt and accessible picture book by Suzanne Collins, the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of the Hunger Games series, is accompanied by James Proimos's sweet and funny illustrations. This picture book will speak to any child who has had to spend time away from a parent.
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  • Suzanne Collins talks about Year of the Jungle
    Suzanne Collins talks about Year of the Jungle  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this picture book, Collins sensitively examines the impact of war on the very young, using her own family history as a template. Suzy is the youngest of four children—Proimos draws her with impossibly big, questioning blue eyes and a mass of frizzy red hair—and she is struggling to understand the changes in her family. “My dad has to go to something called a war,” she explains. “It’s in a place called Viet Nam. Where is Viet Nam? He will be gone a year. How long is a year? I don’t know what anybody’s talking about.” When Suzy learns that her father is in the jungle, she imagines something akin to the setting of her favorite cartoon (Collins suggests it’s George of the Jungle). As the months wear on, though, Suzy begins to piece together the danger her father is in, whether it’s through the increasingly unnerving postcards he sends (one reads, “Pray for me,” in closing) or by catching a snippet of wartime violence on the news. “Explosions. Helicopters. Guns. Soldiers lie on the ground. Some of them aren’t moving.” In four wordless spreads, Proimos makes Suzy’s awakening powerfully clear, as the gray jungle she initially pictured (populated by four smiling, brightly colored animals) gives way to a more violent vision, as the animals morph into weapons of war. Just when Suzy’s confusion and fear reach an apex: “Then suddenly my dad’s home.” As in Collins’s Hunger Games books, the fuzzy relationship between fear and bravery, and the reality of combat versus an imagined (or, in the case of those books, manufactured) version of it is at the forefront of this story. By the final pages, Suzy has come to understand that “Some things have changed but some things will always be the same.” It’s a deceptively simple message of reassurance that readers who may currently be in Suzy’s situation can take to heart, whether their loved ones return changed, as hers did, or don’t return at all. Ages 4–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Suzanne Collins's work:

"Collins writes with raw power." -- TIME Magazine

Praise for James Proimos's work:

“…Imaginative and humorous…”-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"Proimos's light cartoon art and plotline carry some weighty themes." -- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

"In her first picture book, Collins sensitively examines the impact of war on the very young, using her own family history as a template. Suzy is the youngest of four children—Proimos draws her with impossibly big, questioning blue eyes and a mass of frizzy red hair—and she is struggling to understand the changes in her family. ?My dad has to go to something called a war,? she explains. ?It’s in a place called Viet Nam. Where is Viet Nam? He will be gone a year. How long is a year? I don’t know what anybody’s talking about.? When Suzy learns that her father is in the jungle, she imagines something akin to the setting of her favorite cartoon (Collins suggests it’s George of the Jungle). As the months wear on, though, Suzy begins to piece together the danger her father is in, whether it’s through the increasingly unnerving postcards he sends (one reads, ?Pray for me,? in closing) or by catching a snippet of wartime violence on the news. ?Explosions. Helicopters. Guns. Soldiers lie on the ground. Some of them aren’t moving.? In four wordless spreads, Proimos makes Suzy’s awakening powerfully clear, as the gray jungle she initially pictured (populated by four smiling, brightly colored animals) gives way to a more violent vision, as the animals morph into weapons of war. Just when Suzy’s confusion and fear reach an apex: ?Then suddenly my dad’s home.? As in Collins’s Hunger Games books, the fuzzy relationship between fear and bravery, and the reality of combat versus an imagined (or, in the case of those books, manufactured) version of it is at the forefront of this story. By the final pages, Suzy has come to understand that ?Some things have changed but some things will always be the same.? It’s a deceptively simple message of reassurance that readers who may currently be in Suzy’s situation can take to heart, whether their loved ones return changed, as hers did, or don’t return at all. " - Publishers Weekly starred review

"Collins mines her own experience to tell a tender, personal story of war seen through a child’s eyes. Firstgrader Suzy’s father is deployed to Viet Nam. At first, though she misses him, she dreams of the exotic jungle. But as the year goes on, marked by Christmas trees and candy hearts, things get harder. His postcards arrive less and less frequently, while news of the war, and its real dangers, comes more and more often. In the end Suzy’s father returns, and while some things are different, some things are the same. Collins’ unflinching first-person account details the fears and disappointments of the situation as a child would experience them. And where more realistic illustrations would feel overwrought and sentimental, Proimos’s flat, cartoony drawings, with their heavy lines and blocky shapes, are sturdy and sweet, reflecting a child’s clear-eyed innocence. While small, personal details and specific references to Viet Nam fix the story in one child’s individual experience, it is these very particularities that establish the kind of indelible and heartfelt resonance to be universally understood. Indeed, children missing parents in all kinds of circumstances will find comfort here." - Booklist starred review

"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

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
The author of the "Hunger Games" trilogy here offers up a strikingly different but equally compelling story: a beautiful, understated, and wrenching account of a little girl's year of missing her dad while he is off fighting in Vietnam. Based on Collins's own childhood memories, the text provides pitch-perfect childlike details of what this "year of the jungle" would feel like to a first grader. Suzy's older sister has to read their dad's postcards to her because they are written in cursive; Suzy marks the passage of time by holiday milestones like tracing her hand to make a Thanksgiving turkey. Too young to understand exactly what's going on, she begins worrying only when a well-meaning neighbor reassures her, "Your dad will be just fine" and gives her "way too much extra candy" on Halloween; worry only intensifies when her "confused" dad sends her a birthday card in the wrong season. Proimos' frequent wordless double-spreads eloquently depict the landscape of Suzy's imagined jungle, where she is first greeted by friendly elephants and hippos and later menaced by tanks and explosions. Utterly without sentimentality, this simple book is likely to bring most readers to tears, even as the ending reaffirms the strength of family connection over distance and time. Powerful and poignant. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—This moving picture book recounts, through the author's eyes as a child, the year of her father's military tour of duty in Viet Nam. The youngest of four kids growing up in a safe, loving family, Suzy is first seen listening to her dad read Ogden Nash's poem about Custard, the dragon who stays brave despite his inner fears. Thus the stage is set for her father's imminent deployment. In this pre-Internet world, his postcards provide tenuous but tangible connections as the first grader tries to comprehend what a jungle is, what her father is doing there, and the passage of time ("Has it been a year yet?"). But Suzy's concerns increase when Dad confuses her birthday with a sister's, and then the postcards cease. When one abruptly surfaces, Dad signs it, "Pray for me." (She does, "very hard.") Television news and a near-drowning incident during a swimming lesson feed the child's anxieties. Suddenly, Dad is home, "tired and thin… his skin… the color of pancake syrup." Suzy struggles to articulate her harbored fears, which he gently allays, and the two resume reading about Custard, whose stoicism surely resonates more deeply for them. Vibrantly colored cartoon illustrations, outlined in thick black ink, underscore a child's point of view. The characters' enormous eyes and boldly colored pupils provide an arresting motif. Suzy's increasingly haunted imaginings, depicted on spreads of painterly gray tones with bursts of color, stand in stark visual contrast to the narrative text and illustrations framed by generous white space. The author's spot-on memories paired with child-friendly art create a universal exploration of war and its effect on young children, ideally shared with and facilitated by a sensitive adult.—Kathleen Finn, St. Francis Xavier School, Winooski, VT
Kirkus Reviews
First-grader Suzy's father is in the jungles of Vietnam for a year. Through a tightly controlled child's point of view, readers live the year with little Suzy in the sheltered world her parents have built for her. She understands little at first, imagining romps in the jungle with elephants and apes. Her father sends her postcards every so often with cheery scenes of the tropics. Eventually, the postcards stop coming. She misses her dad, especially when her brother takes over some of her father's duties, like reading the comics or Ogden Nash's poems to her. One day, the wall of protection is broken by the television, with frightening visions of explosions, helicopters, guns and dead soldiers. Her mother whisks her away, too late. Proimos' ink-and-digital art, in his signature cartoon style, adds needed humor to a frankly scary story that honors Suzy's experience and respects those who share it. Occasional full-page wordless spreads allow readers to see into Suzy's mind, beginning with her flying through the jungle and leading up to her post-epiphany anxiety about tanks and helicopters and rifles. With a notable lack of patriotic rhetoric or clichés about bravery and honor, Collins holds firm to her childhood memories, creating a universal story for any child whose life is disrupted by war. Important and necessary. (Picture book. 4-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545623056
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: NOOK Kids
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,092,221
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • File size: 6 MB

Meet the Author

Suzanne Collins

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.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2014

    Suzanne Collins is almost finnished her quest to write a war sto

    Suzanne Collins is almost finnished her quest to write a war story for each age group, starting with a Year in the Jungle for young children,
    followed by The Underland Chronicles for middle schoolers, then followed by The Hunger Games Trilogy for YA. Waiting to see what her 
    Adult novel will make an appearence. This book is very good for young children to introduce them to the concept of war and how it effects
    Children. It disscuses how the war influenced her childhood and how the Vietnam war was handled by Americans and how they treated the 
    Soldiers and their families. I would highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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