The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is an upcoming prequel book to The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It is the prequel to the 2008 bestseller The Hunger Games, centering on the events that occurred 64 years prior to the trilogy.

The book was announced on June 16, 2019 by Scholastic Press. The author Suzanne Collins said in a statement that she would go back to the years following the so-called "Dark Days," the failed rebellion in Panem. Scholastic spokeswoman Tracy van Straaten declined comment on the new book's contents or featured characters beyond what's described in the first official announcement.[2]

The cover art and title was announced by Scholastic at New York Comic Con on October 4, 2019. The cover art for the novel was designed by Tim O'Brien. 

The main character was revealed to be a young Coriolanus Snow on January 21, 2020, along with an excerpt from the novel.[3]


Senate Ballad

The book's cover projected onto the Senate House in London

The novel will be set in the world of Panem 64 years before the events of the original Hunger Games trilogy on the morning of the reaping of the 10th Hunger Games—well before the lifetime of the story’s protagonists Katniss Everdeen. 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 Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Official Trailer

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Official Trailer

Ambition will fuel him.
Competition will drive him.
But power has its price.

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.[1]


  • Coriolanus Snow - One of the 24 mentors assigned by the "Academy" for the 10th Hunger Games. He will mentor the District 12 female tribute. He will also be the future President of Panem.
  • Casca Highbottom - The dean of the "Academy" and credited for creating the Games.
  • Livia Cardew - The mentor for the District 1 male tribute. Her mother is known to run the largest bank in the Capitol.
  • Sejanus Plinth - The mentor for the District 2 male tribute.
  • Clemensia Dovecote - The mentor for the District 11 male tribute. She was the daughter of the Capitol's energy secretary.

Film adaptation

Lionsgate has reportedly begun working on a “Hunger Games” prequel movie, based on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

"As the proud home of the ‘Hunger Games’ movies, we can hardly wait for Suzanne’s next book to be published. We’ve been communicating with her during the writing process and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her on the movie."
―Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group.[4]


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Journal

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Journal

In association with the book's release, Scholastic is also releasing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Journal on the same day as the book itself. The journal will be adorned with mockingjays from all four titles in the series and will feature 192 lined pages, an exclusive Hunger Games design, and a ribbon placeholder.[5]


Regarding the new title, Scholastic publisher and editorial director David Levithan stated "Over a decade ago, Panem provided a very useful lens through which to see our own world, and I think applies as well in 2020, where questions of power and moral choice are as prevalent as ever. It’s also fascinating to revisit a place you feel you know, but 64 years earlier." Author Suzanne Collins stated that "With this book, I wanted to explore the state of nature, who we are, and what we perceive is required for our survival."[6]

Cover art

The cover art for The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was designed by Tim O'Brien. It features a golden mockingjay at a new angle, entwined with a snake. Regarding the cover art, VP publisher and editorial director for Scholastic David Levithan stated that "This cover 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."[7]


Ballad of Songbirds Spanish Edition

Spanish edition, Balada de Pájaros Cantores y Serpientes

Ballad of Songbirds Barnes Exclusive

Barnes and Noble exclusive edition

Scholastic has announced a world record first printing of 2.5 million copies for the book.[8] Barnes and Noble will release an exclusive edition of the title featuring a reader's group guide, as well as a Q&A with author Suzanne Collins and editor David Levithan.[9] Walmart is also planning a release of an exclusive edition of the title which will come with a collectible bookmark.[10] The title has also been announced for release as an audiobook, though as mid-February 2020, no narrator has yet been set for the title.[11] As of October 2019, translation rights for the title had been sold in 28 territories.[7] In a call regarding Scholastic quarterly results, Scholastic CEO Dick Robinson was asked about the possibility of the publication date of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes being changed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. He stated that Scholastic is reviewing its options, but that currently they strongly feel that they wish to hold on to the May 19 publishing date.[12]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Amazon - The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Retrieved on February 2, 2020.
  2. APNewsBreak: 'Hunger Games' Prequel Novel Coming in 2020. Usnew (June 17, 2019).
  3. Canfield, David (January 21, 2020). Who's the star of the Hunger Games prequel? Read the exclusive first excerpt. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on January 26, 2020.
  4. Lionsgate Planning ‘Hunger Games’ Prequel Movie. Variety (June 17, 2019).
  5. Amazon - The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Journal. Retrieved on January 26, 2020.
  6. Donvito, Tina (January 30, 2020). Everything We Know About the Hunger Games Prequel, Plus Exclusive Intel From the Publisher!. Parade. Retrieved on January 31, 2020.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Scholastic Announces Title and Cover for New Novel in the Worldwide Bestselling Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins. Scholastic Press (October 4, 2019). Retrieved on February 29, 2020.
  8. Flood, Allison (January 22, 2020). Extract from Hunger Games prequel sparks anger among fans. The Guardian. Retrieved on January 26, 2020.
  9. Barnes and Noble - The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes exclusive edition. Retrieved on January 31, 2020.
  10. Walmart - The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes exclusive edition. Retrieved on February 2, 2020.
  11. Maughan, Shannon (January 31, 2020). Spring 2020 Announcements: Audio Books. Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved on February 16, 2020.
  12. Deahl, Rachel (March 24, 2020). As Coronavirus Spreads, Publishers Struggle with When, and How, to Move Pub Dates. Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved on March 29, 2020.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Main Characters Coriolanus Snow
Supporting Characters Casca HighbottomLivia CardewClemensia DovecoteSejanus Plinth
Locations PanemThe CapitolDistrict 1District 2District 3District 4District 5District 6District 7District 8District 9District 10District 11District 12District 13
Behind the Scenes Suzanne Collins
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