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When Suzanne Collins announced she was returning to the world of The Hunger Games, everyone got ready. Fans got ready to read her upcoming book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes and Lionsgate got ready to make another movie with director Francis Lawrence returning. With the publication of the book less than a month away, Collins read the beginning of Chapter One for Bustle

Hunger Games: President Snow
Donald Sutherland | Murray Close/Lionsgate

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel that deals with Coriolanus Snow (played by Donald Sutherland in the movies as President Snow) as a teenager in the world before Katniss, Peeta and Gale. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is out May 19.

Coriolanus Snow was poor in the ‘Hunger Games’ prequel ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

The very first words of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes have Snow preparing a meal. Collins describes the very unappetizing confection Snow makes. 

“Coriolanus released the fistful of cabbage into the pot of boiling water and swore that one day it would never pass his lips again,” Collins read. “But this was not that day. He needed to eat a large bowl of the anemic stuff, and drink every drop of broth to prevent his stomach from growling during the reaping ceremony.”

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes | David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Scholastic

Hunger Games fans will remember Katniss hunting and Peeta baking as they make do in District 12. Snow has better days ahead, although he makes things worse for the districts, but at 18, he’s not too dissimilar from his future nemesis.

“It was one of a long list of precautions he took to mask the fact that his family, despite residing in the penthouse of the Capitol’s most opulent apartment building, was as poor as district scum,” Collins read. “That at eighteen, the heir to the once-great house of Snow had nothing to live on but his wits.”

Suzanne Collins describes prep for an early reaping

The reaping is when all the districts gather to have contestants chosen for The Hunger Games. Young Snow seems excited for his reaping and wants to dress for success.

“His shirt for the reaping was worrying him,” Collins read. “He had an acceptable pair of dark dress pants bought on the black market last year, but the shirt was what people looked at. Fortunately, the Academy provided the uniforms it required for daily use.”

Young Tigris makes an appearance ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’

Katniss sees Tigris in her fur shop in The Capital. Back in the days of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Tigris was dressing Coriolanus Snow.

“Tigris has said to trust her and he did,” Collins read. “Only his cousin’s cleverness with a needle had saved him so far. Still, he couldn’t expect miracles. The shirt they’d dug from the back of the wardrobe – his father’s, from better days – was stained and yellowed with age, half the buttons missing, a cigarette burn on one cuff. Too damaged to sell in even the worst of times. And this was to be his reaping shirt?”

Suzanne Collins
Suzanne Collins | Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

Tigris can work fashion miracles, so Collins hints that she’s got Snow covered.

“This morning he’d gone to a room at daybreak, only to find both his cousin and the shirt missing,” Collins read. “Had Tigris given up on the old thing and braved the black market in some last-ditch effort to find him proper clothing? And what on Earth would she possess worth trading for it? Only one thing, herself, and the house of Snow had not yet fallen that far.”