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All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  153 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Carolrhoda Books (R)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  153 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I didn’t intend to review this book in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. When I first saw it, months and months ago, I thought it would make a lot of sense to review a book about what happened after the Oklahoma City Bombing of 1995, on its exact 25th anniversary. I had no idea that an equally historical moment would be happening to my country on April 18th of 2020 or that this book, with its understanding of people who “lost hope that anything would ever be okay again”, “suffered damage to t ...more
La Coccinelle
As this is a picture book about the Oklahoma City bombing, it's not exactly something one reads for enjoyment. While I appreciate the intent behind the book, and think it could be a valuable teaching tool, I can't really say that I liked it, or that it's going to be appropriate for everyone.

The narrative is quite simple and focuses mostly on the aftermath and the healing process. (The bomber isn't even named, and the bombing itself takes up a very small part of the narrative.) Much is made of th
Oooof. This quiet book packs a punch.

I was 9 when the OKC bombing happened, and I only vaguely remember it. I learned more about it last year when I read Boom Town by Sam Anderson (which was excellent, and you should read it), and reading about it as an adult and a parent was horrifying. This book does a solid job of explaining the tragedy to young children without being graphic, but the sadness really comes through. I also appreciated the focus on healing and how people help each other after a
While at first I wondered when I would want to read a book specifically explaining the Oklahoma City bombing to children, this book is a calm and wonderous look at any large tragedy that invites acceptance of the bad while wondering and showing how people move forward, together, in community, with help and hope.
It's so close to being a 5-star book for me because the tremendous artwork is soothing and contemplative for the tragic event, and while I strongly liked the story, I needed one thing: the generalizations of "many, many" or "so many people" or "some of the people" or "sometimes" this or that was annoying to the story. If the focus was on the elm tree being the symbol of survivorship, then make it about that. If the book was based on the experiences of those interviewed (which are detailed at the ...more
Vidya Tiru
Apr 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My Thoughts

First Thoughts
Sometimes bad things happen, and you have to tell everyone. Sometimes terrible things happen, and everybody knows.
These are the first lines of the book and sound so much like the current times. And yet, books like this show it has happened before and we have all survived those things before to read about them today. So, yes, this is a somber story, but it is a story of hope, of the implicit trust each of us have in humanity, of the trust we place in each other.

And then m
Amit Verma
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
It is nofiction illustrated work based on bombings of oklohoma city.
It focuses on a tall tree which survived the onslaught.
And then it became source of solace, inspiration and strength for survivors and their families.
It provided common ground for combined consciousness of the victims and their families.
It worked as a flag post for suffering masses to cling upon.
This underlines importance of collective effort to help each other and to preserve our nature.
In tough times and good times trees never
Danielle Hammelef
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
The healing part of a tragedy shines through the calming illustrations and tone of the text. This is the first book I have read on this event and the hurt and healing that followed. My favorite part is the symbolism of the Survivor Tree and how its seeds were collected, sown, grown, and distributed to those impacted by the bombing.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book, but in art and subject. This one talk about surviving a tragedy and keep on living after. Deep, emotional and I believe a book that truly can be helpful. Good job!
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Somberly but beautifully illustrated.
Respectfully, touchingly written-
Unraveling the many known and unknown facets of this story, giving honor to victims and those who loved them.

Ruth Cook
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Terrific book about a sad event.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A national tragedy is recounted in this beautiful book; the focus is on recovery and the symbolism of a surviving elm tree and solace it provides to victims.
Leah Horton
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was 9 years old when the Oklahoma bombing happened. I can still feel the understanding for the first time in my life that true evil existed. This was the first awful event I can recall. I can still remember the empty feeling in my stomach and the pain in my heart. That realization changes us all, this was mine.

This book is a beautiful tribute to an awful day in America’s history. The bombing did not discriminate. Children as well as adults were lost. Families were broken. Lovers were left mou
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and healing after the Oklahoma City Bombing by Chris Barton, illustrated by Nicole Xu. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Carolrhoda (Lerner), 2020. $20. 9781541526693



In 1995, Oklahoma City, and but extension America, were devastated by the homegrown terrorists who set off a bomb in the middle of their fairly quiet city.

Barton addresses the Oklamoma City bombing in the abstract, addressing groups of people as Some or Many
Panda Incognito
This nonfiction picture book tells the story of how people affected by the Oklahoma City bombing have dealt with their trauma and extended compassion to those harmed by subsequent terrorist attacks. This book also tells the story of the tree that survived the blast, showing how people traumatized by other attacks have received saplings from this tree as a symbol of hope. This approach to the story honors the way that humans attempt to make meaning out of suffering by extending kindness towards o ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This nonfiction picture book takes the tremendous tragedy of April 19, 1995 and leads readers to hope and a way forward. It looks deeply at the loss of life, at how so many people were lost and so many more were impacted by the deaths. It looks at the many broken bones and also the broken minds that resulted from the bombing too. The book then moves to after the bombing and the one tree that remained standing nearby. That American elm tree was battered and scorched by the blast, yet it remained ...more
Stephanie Bange
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful contemplation of experiencing extreme tragedy or trauma, loss, and moving on.
For anyone who has experienced a group tragedy or trauma, they know that everyone's experience was different. There is something comforting and healing to talk about your experience with others who also experienced it.

Twenty-five years after the bombing at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, Chris Barton has captured the sorrow, solemnity, and healing that has gone on in Oklahoma City. He sensitively ca
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: elementary-class
This is the first picture book on the Oklahoma City bombing I have encountered. And it's a tenderly written one with lovely artwork and narrative appropriate for the targeted audience. From page one, readers will sense the author and illustrator's dedicated research and respect towards the victims, survivors, and their loved ones. But - as the author says - the bombing is not the end of the story. The book centers on what followed: the healing, the help given to those who were hurting, the Natio ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was reading some new Net Galley titles tonight, and I came across Chris Barton’s upcoming, All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing (due February 2020). I felt compelled to write, since the Oklahoma City bombing happened while I was in labor with my second daughter. I remember watching the news story unfold between ice chips and contractions almost 25 years ago; now this book captures the day to be remembered in a creative picture book.

This book is a lovely
Gabrielle Stoller
It is books like this that remind me of the humanity that still exists in the world. It is books like this that do inspire hope and resilience. It is books like this that do shine a light on dark events and how they touch lives....but often the good will overwhelm the bad.

I was five when Oklahoma City happened. So I guess I have lived through two terrorist attacks on American soil (what a comforting thought....). However, I knew very little about it and the Survivor Tree. My first foray was in
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Published on the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, this book takes an interesting look not so much at the actual event itself but at the emotional trauma and healing process experienced by so many people who were touched by this tragedy. While I appreciated the unique message and viewpoint of this story, it seemed a little vague and difficult to connect with. I'm also unsure who about who the intended audience is meant to be. The story is too frightening for younger children and wit ...more
“It would be a monument to what had been lost but also to the community of those still living.”

At the site of the Oklahoma City bombing, a tree was damaged but not destroyed. From that tree, seedlings were taken and used to grow more trees. This helped to create a memorial. The seedlings also gave hope and comfort to victims and survivors of the original bombing. “There were enough seedlings for families of those who had died to take one home to plant.” As they continue to collect seedlings ever
Feb 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
This picture book is a poem about the Oklahoma City Bombing, which will have its 25th anniversary in April 2020. While it does briefly cover the bombing, I would say this is more about the pain, grief and eventually healing that happened afterwards. It would be a great book to help anyone going through grief and loss. The poetry is accompanied by beautiful illustrations that capture the events without being too graphic. Overall, a beautiful remembrance of the event, its victims and those left be ...more
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This picture book does an excellent job of showing the good that came out of the bombing, without discounting how horrific the event was or pretending that there were no long-term negative consequences.

The illustrations are darker for the pages of the story that are focused on the tragedy and brighter for the happier parts, supporting and helping to create the mood of the story. I love how the tree roots seem to flow from page to page as the story progresses, emphasizing the story of the elm tr
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a book about the Oklahoma City Bombing and the museum built to commemorate that event, but more it's a book about what happens to people affected by tragedies like that. The illustrations are carefully designed from colors to shapes to depictions to reflect the tone of the words, which describe the emotions of the people affected and the process of dealing with trauma. The metaphor of the seedlings grown from a tree at the bomb site help show how growth continues but at its own pace, som ...more
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Simple, straight forward text deals with a tragedy in a pretty kid friendly way. The illustrations are gorgeous and fit the text well. I wish I had read this before going to the memorial (back in 2017). I remember the chairs but don’t remember the tree and I definitely would have looked out for it more if I had read this book first.
I think this would be a great read aloud to talk about tragedy and helpers (I think of Mr. Rogers’s quote “look for the helpers.”) but I’m not so sure about just hav
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I remember the Oklahoma bombing, one of the most horrific terrorist attacks I’d experienced in my young life. Chris Barton’s book All of a Sudden and Forever tells the story with such dignity and reverence, while all the while pointing readers to the hope that brings healing. The illustrations by Nicole Xu are beautiful and sensitive. I will definitely use this book in my classroom!
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book. The words capture the sadness and grief that people felt by the Oklahoma City bombing. It also captures the resilience of people who’ve gone through tremendous grief and how they can live their lives as survivors, comforters to others, and to still find happiness and love. And the illustrations were amazing. The Survivor Tree wove in and out to enhance the words perfectly.
Mar 15, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic-kids, picture
This picture book does not focus on the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma; rather it focuses on the elm tree that survived. Seeds from that tree are harvested and taken to a nursery to start seedlings. Those seedlings are then given to family, friends, and visitors to plant at their homes.
Edward Sullivan
There is much I love about this affectingly told and illustrated story of grief and recovery, but I am troubled that the narrative suggests that the bombing is a random act of violence. It is only in the author's note that it is referred to as a "terrorist attack." ...more
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I'm the author of picture books including bestseller Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor-winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, which was included on 21 state reading lists.

My newest books include Fire Truck vs. Dragon, All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing, What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of

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