This morning during a reveal on Good Morning America, fans of Suzanne Collins’s blockbuster Hunger Games trilogy got their first peek at the cover of a new book in the YA fantasy franchise: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, set for release May 19, 2020 with a first printing of 2.5 million copies. The title will be published simultaneously in print, digital, and audio formats by Scholastic in the U.S., Canada, the UK and Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. And to date, Rosemary Stimola at the Stimola Literary Studio has additionally sold translations rights to the new work into 28 territories.
Scholastic first announced the book back in June, describing it as a prequel set in Collins’s fictional country of Panem 64 years prior to the events of The Hunger Games. David Levithan, v-p, publisher, and editorial director for Scholastic, expanded a bit on why Collins has chosen to revisit the world of the Hunger Games at this point in time. “As Suzanne Collins said when we announced the book, she wants ‘to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival,’” he said. “Panem provides extraordinarily rich material for such an exploration, and I as a reader think it’s a perpetually relevant exploration.”
Collins’s original trilogy launched with The Hunger Games in 2008, followed by Catching Fire in 2009 and wrapped up with Mockingjay in 2010. Those three initial books have sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 54 languages. Lionsgate adapted the books into a series of four films beginning in 2012 that have earned more than $3 billion \worldwide.
The new book’s jacket spotlights a green target with what looks like a gleaming gold mockingjay pin in the bullseye center. The pin’s design differs from the one heroine Katniss wears in the original books and the hit movie adaptations. This new-to-readers rendition of the pin features an upright mockingjay encircled by a thorny branch and a tongue-flicking snake slithering at its feet. According to Levithan, the new image “does an extraordinary job of capturing the conflict—both inner and outer—that lies at the heart of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. The mockingjay has returned, but at a new angle... which is very much in line with the story that Suzanne Collins is telling.”
As for what kind of ride readers can expect from the book, Levithan said, “I hope it’s a ride that will cause readers to deeply consider their own relationship to the driver’s seat, in their lives and in society at large.”