Songbirds and Snakes

The title and cover for Suzanne Collins' new Hunger Games book have been revealed: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. We also learned through Scholastic that the book will begin 64 years before The Hunger Games on the morning of the reaping of the 10th Hunger Games.

So let's take a look at the cover and title more in-depth. Obviously, songbirds and snakes both played a symbolic role in The Hunger Games trilogy, with the mockingjay being the symbol for the district rebels and snakes (or a snake) symbolizing President Snow.

The Songbird
The title and image make me think we will learn of the origin of Madge's mockingjay pin and how the songbird became a symbol for the rebellion. We know that it once belonged to her aunt Maysilee Donner and that Maysilee wore it during the 50th Hunger Games. Beyond that, we don't know how Maysilee acquired it or where it originated from. I think this book (or perhaps it will be a series) will give us those answers.

The Snake
Throughout the trilogy, President Snow has represented a snake. In Catching Fire Katniss calls his eyes "snakelike" (p. 17), compares seeing him to a "fanged viper" (p. 18), and even admits she treats him as though he is a venomous snake (p. 19). In Mockingjay, Finnick reveals how President Snow rose so quickly to power: poison. Katniss thinks, "Poison. The perfect weapon for a snake" (p. 171).

Will we see a young version of President Snow in this book? It's hard to say how old he is in the trilogy because the Capitol citizens have access to amazing gadgets and medicine to keep them looking younger and he already looks quite old. We do know he is a grandfather. I'm going to guess if we do see President Snow in this book, it will most likely be his child or young adult version. If Collins makes this a series, though, there is a chance we will get to see his rise to power and Finnick's scandalous stories will come alive on the page. Finnick does say that Snow was "Such a young man when he rose to power" (p. 171). This makes me think that we will somehow see the beginnings of Snow's snake-like rise to evil. At the very least, we will see his predecessor.

Other Characters? 
With the book rewinding 64 years, it's safe to say most of the characters from the original trilogy will be absent from the novel. However, there could be some. Mags from District 4 was elderly, so there's a chance she could be in it. As I stated before, President Snow--or Coriolanus--could be featured as a child or a very young man. Katniss has said Ceasar Flickerman has been around forever, but could he be old enough to be in the 10th Games? Probably not.

I do wonder who will narrate the book (or whether it will even feature a first-person narration). Will it be a district citizen? A Capitol citizen? Or will it feature multiple perspectives?

No matter what the novel reveals, I'm just elated Collins is expanding the Hunger Games world. I can't wait to meet the new characters and learn more about this time period in Panem.

Image courtesy of Scholastic, Inc.
Pre-order your copy of the book through scholastic.com/hungergames


Suzanne Collins' New Book Goes Back to the Dark Days

Suzanne Collins' prequel to The Hunger Games www.hungergameslessons.com

With Scholastic's recent announcement that author Suzanne Collins will release a prequel to The Hunger Games trilogy May 19, 2020, it's a perfect time to review what we know about the time leading up to the series and speculate on the contents of the prequel.

Collins released a statement regarding the setting and premise of the novel:

“With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival. The reconstruction period 10 years after the war, commonly referred to as the Dark Days — as the country of Panem struggles back to its feet — provides fertile ground for characters to grapple with these questions and thereby define their views of humanity.”

The Hunger Games prequel Speculations www.hungergameslessons.com
Based on this information and what we know from reading the series, we can deduce the following:

1. The prequel will be set 10 years after "the brutal war for what little sustenance remained" (The Hunger Games, Collins 18). Panem and its 13 newly-formed districts were formed after the war and "brought peace and prosperity to its citizens" (18).

2. Obviously, the "peace and prosperity" was short-lived or was a farce because the Dark Days--the time after the war and formation of Panem--is when all the districts organize the first uprising.

3. All of the districts are defeated by the Capitol and District 13 is destroyed (above ground, anyway) during this time period. We also know that two rebels for every Capitol citizen were killed during this uprising (Catching Fire, Collins 172).

4. The Capitol created some of their killing "pods" in the city during the Dark Days (Mockingjay, Collins 251). They also bred genetically-altered animals (muttations or mutts) such as the jabber jay--used to record private conversations--during this time (The Hunger Games, Collins 42).

5. District 13 started the rebellion that caused the Dark Days, "then abandoned the rest of the districts when the tide turned against it" (Mockingjay, Collins 357).

6. The Capitol wrote and enacted the "Treaty of Treason" with new laws to guarantee peace. As part of the new laws, the Hunger Games is formed as a "yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated" (The Hunger Games, Collins 18). In addition, all of the Quarter Quell rules were created as part of these new laws (Catching Fire, Collins 172).


(These questions are pure speculation; I have no idea if these questions will be answered. I am merely guessing based on Collins' statement.)

• What happens in those ten years that cause the districts to uprise? What was the tipping point to cause District 13 to initiate the rebellion? What pushed the citizens over the edge?

• Was Panem a democracy before the rebellion? Were districts independent?

• Could citizens travel freely from district to district? Could people communicate with citizens in other districts? Were the districts fenced in or were the borders created during the Dark Days?

• How long did the rebellion/Dark Days last?

• Why did District 13 turn their backs on the rest of the districts when the Capitol started to gain control of the rebellion?

• Why did Collins decide to return to Panem after stating she was ready to move on? Was the current political and global climate an inspiration?

What questions do you have that you hope to have answered? Are you excited for the new novel? Do you have a countdown until May 19th? Share below in the comments.

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