A Child’s Understanding of War

By Suzanne Collins, Illustrated by James Proimos
Scholastic, $17.99, 32 pages

Spending time apart from a loved one is difficult, especially when that person is away at war. But how does having a parent serving overseas in the military affect a child? In her book Year of the Jungle: Memories From the Home Front, Suzanne Collins presents a year in the life of Suzy, a 6-year-old girl whose father has been called to war in the far away jungles of Vietnam. When Suzy first learns that her dad will be leaving, she imagines that the jungles will be safe and filled with her favorite cartoon characters. It is only when Suzy sees horrible, graphic images of the fighting on television and notices the anxious behavior of adults around her that she really begins to worry about her father. Will he ever come home? Why did he have to leave in the first place? Will he be the same after being away for so long?

Any child who has ever dealt with the absence of a parent or loved one, regardless of the circumstances, will identify with Suzy’s concerns. Needless to say, children of deployed military personnel will benefit immensely from reading this book. Readers will likely know award-winning, bestselling author Suzanne Collins from her young adult trilogy The Hunger Games, another story that, at its heart, is fundamentally about war and its effect on young people.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin

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