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

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40 pages, Hardcover

First published February 4, 2020

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About the author

Chris Barton

25 books77 followers
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 has been included on 21 state reading lists.


My new books include MOVING FORWARD: FROM SPACE-AGE RIDES TO CIVIL RIGHTS SIT-INS WITH AIRMAN ALTON YATES (illustrated by Steffi Walthall; a School Library Journal Best Book of 2022) and GLITTER EVERYWHERE! WHERE IT CAME FROM, WHERE IT'S FOUND & WHERE IT'S GOING (illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat; June 2023).

I visit schools by the score and also love speaking to professional gatherings of librarians, educators, and fellow writers.

I'm married to middle-grade/YA novelist Jennifer Ziegler (WORSER, HOW NOT TO BE POPULAR). Jennifer and I have four adult children and one dog, and we co-host the children’s literature video series “This One’s Dedicated to…” in which we talk with other authors and illustrators about the dedications they’ve written for their books.

Jennifer and I live in Austin, where I serve as a council member of the Texas Institute of Letters, a 501(c)(3) non-profit honor society founded in 1936 to celebrate Texas literature and to recognize distinctive literary achievement.

For more information about me, please visit www.chrisbarton.info.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 67 reviews
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,711 followers
April 19, 2020
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 their minds and spirits,” and the brave ones who “saw horrible things they would never forget”, would feel so on the nose in its assessment of the state of the world today. A pandemic is not a bombing, nor could it ever be mistaken for one. But if we are talking about events that change us all and that we must collectively heal from (whether literally or figuratively) then this book might be precisely what we need. Because this isn’t just a book about something that happened a quarter of a century ago. It’s a book that is meant to help you learn how to heal and recover and hope in the face of the horrendous. Parents, it’s time to homeschool a little history. The kind we need now more than ever.

On a morning in April of 1995 a truck blew up outside of a building in Oklahoma City. Lives were changed that day. Some lost their loved ones, while others never fully recovered themselves. But this is not about how the bombing came to be. This is about what came after. “Healing doesn’t always come easily,” and so many people needed help. Oddly, an elm tree survived the blast that day. After it had healed, people started to collect its seeds. They had already been traveling around the country and world, telling the story of the bombing. With the elm’s seeds, they began giving away little versions of what they dubbed “The Survivor Tree”. They also built a memorial and got on with their lives. Now the people closest to the bombing are passing on what they know to other generations. Backmatter includes an Author’s Note, an Illustrator’s Note, Recommended Reading, Other Recommended Resources, and extensive information on research material and interview subjects.

One narrative technique that Barton uses in this book is to begin it with a clear recitation of the facts of the bombing and then to punctuate the sentences that follow with assurances of what is “true” about the case. “It is true that many people were hurt, in many, many ways.” “It is true as well that some who survived had their bodies broken in ways large and small.” “And it is true that some found their lives flooded with anger, grief, or fear.” I wonder at Barton’s method of truth telling. Somehow he is capable of both telling hard truths about horrible things, while also establishing this small bit of distance between the reader and the events. It feels like a buffer of sorts. Barton is writing a book for children, remember, but in reading this I am reminded of the swath of books that were published in the wake of 9/11. I remember how much I wanted to find a book like this one at that time. Mostly we got inspiring stories about tugboats and roses and tightrope walkers, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of that. Still, there was a part of me that wanted to find a book that told children the truth about how hard it is to live through something like that. Hard, but not hopeless. Barton’s words don’t just let the reader in on the complicated truth behind massive, horrible events, but also give people experiencing similar tragedies permission to be hurt and angry and afraid. Tone is everything in Barton's writing. Without it, the book falls apart.

This book is not called “The Survivor Tree”. Do you find that significant? The tree graces the cover visually, but is not mentioned in either the title or subtitle. Wouldn’t it have felt like an entirely different book if it had been called something that maudlin? Notice too that it’s also not a book about the events that led up to the bombing and what happened that day. It could have been. No such book exists for kids, insofar as I know. Yet Barton has chosen to instead write a book about an aftermath, a choice that I find exceedingly wise. Sometimes it feels like we’re all living in the shadow of different catastrophes. Using a kind of emotional restraint in his writing, he explains to children such basic concepts as, for example, the purpose of memorials. Of the people affected by the bombing, “None of them had been hurt in exactly the same way, yet they could all seek some healing in this space they had in common.” It is an author’s choices that make or break a book. The title, the subject matter, the writing, it’s all part of a bigger picture.

Which brings us to the gutsy choices of artist Nicole Xu. Xu’s figures are uniformly featureless. That's no insult, that is a fact. They are literally bereft of expression. And so I got swept up in a kind of chicken-or-the-egg type of thinking. Were Xu’s characters in this book expressionless before she read Barton’s text or did Barton’s text, which is calm and clear and concise, inspire this emotional restraint on Xu’s part? Whatever the case, due to the weight of the subject matter, I cannot imagine this book with art by anyone except Nicole Xu. Facial expressions have their place in nonfiction picture books. However, so much more can be read from simple things like posture, position, and interactions. We don’t need to see tears in the eyes of a person sitting alone in a darkened room to know that they are sad. In her Illustrator’s Note at the back of the book, Xu mentions wanting to match the tone of the writing. Out of curiosity I looked at her other work to see if perhaps this was just in the vein of what she usually did. To my delight, I saw that this decision to wipe clean the faces of the characters was certainly an original decision on the artist’s part. That’s not the only thing she’s done here, though. Look at the ways in which she incorporates branches and roots into her images. So often these reach out, subtly, to people,

There is a moment at the end of All of a Sudden and Forever when Barton reveals to kids that the people most affected by this bombing will not live forever and over the years will slowly die. “Likewise, the Survivor Tree itself will not live forever,” but because its seeds have been planted and raised all over the world, the tree and its story has been passed on. And as the seeds go on, so too will the people who were comforted by the Survivor Tree initially. And that comfort will be shared and grow. Most of all, “We will remember.” Who is the hero of this book? Barton focuses on three specific groups that came together after the bombing: Families. Survivors. Helpers. This is their story, and just as they reached out to other people after their own calamities, this book reaches out too. As Barton says in his Author’s Note, “My hope is that as new tragedies enter our lives, or as we grapple with past losses, we can take some comfort from the experience and gained some perspective on their own journey.” At this moment in time we’re experiencing a mass pandemic the like of which we’ve never experienced before. It can be very scary, and some of the more jaded kids out there are worried that we may never return to “normal” again. No tragedy is exactly like any other, but I think there’s a great deal of good that comes from a book this adept. Learn the past. Heal the future.

For ages 7-10.
Profile Image for La Coccinelle.
2,243 reviews3,561 followers
December 18, 2019
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 the Survivor Tree, an elm that withstood the blast and has since been propagated and shared as a way to keep life going in the face of tragedy. The pictures are kind of different; the style looks sort of like collage, and details are spare (the people have no facial features, for example). It was probably a good choice to go this route, as too much detail in this could've been overwhelming.

I think I would be really careful about who I chose to share this book with. It would have scared me pretty badly as a child, and I would've been in a panic every time I saw a white truck. If your child is a worrier like I was, and they're too young to understand the statistical unlikelihood of a similar bombing happening in their own neighbourhood, it might be best to hold off on a book like this until they're a bit older. I'd say at least eight years old, because of the inevitable questions about the bombing that are going to arise; kids need to be old enough to handle some of the other details that are going to come up when this event is explored.

But I can see this being a good classroom read. It's especially nice to see what people did to help each other in the aftermath of the bombing. Even though the details in this particular book are a little vague, it gets the ideas across and keeps the memory of the event alive for kids (and potentially their parents) who are too young to remember the bombing themselves.

Thank you to NetGalley and Carolrhoda Books for providing a digital ARC.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,826 reviews652 followers
September 7, 2021
This book tells the story of the Survivor Tree (an elm tree that survived the blast). Chris Barton then uses the tree a symbol of healing; how individuals heal with seeds of hope and roots that sink deeper than the soil burned at the surface. Nicole Xu evokes the shadow of loved ones lost with her unique art.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
3,924 reviews84 followers
August 9, 2020
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 crisis.
5,870 reviews130 followers
April 20, 2021
All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing is a children's picture book written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Nicole Xu. The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 killed 168 people, but the awfulness of that moment is not the end of the story. Since today is the twenty-sixth anniversary of the event, I thought it would be apropos to read this book today.

The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist truck bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, on Wednesday, April 19, 1995. Perpetrated by anti-government extremists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing happened at 9:02 am and killed at least 168 people, injured more than 680 others, and destroyed more than one-third of the building, which had to be demolished.

Barton's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informational. Barton tells exactly what happened and how it affected so many people. Backmatter includes an author’s note, illustrator’s note, interview subjects, and bibliography. Xu's illustrations, created with ink and Photoshop, are dark and eerie, capturing the mood of loss.

The premise of the book is rather straightforward. Grief knows no boundaries as people walk through misty landscapes, as if the dust from the bombing is still in the air. However, an American elm near the blast survives, and its roots entwine scenes from page to page, as if wrapping those still living in its embrace. A touching final double-page spread represents the many people who assemble there. They hold hands, their shadows reflected as if in a misty gray-blue pool, the Survivor Tree's roots swirling underneath.

All in all, All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing is an affecting story of loss rooted in one specific tragedy.
Profile Image for OnceUponALibrarian.
359 reviews6 followers
November 24, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Alicia.
5,732 reviews108 followers
September 28, 2020
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 back of the book because I questioned whether survivors were interviewed based on these sweeping generalizations that I doubted it was anything more than research on the event but come to find out was based on interviews), then use specific names and mention at the end that this was the experience of these individuals and make it specific, tangible, memorable. I couldn't get past the expansiveness or need to be "inclusive" that nothing was ever solid in the story.

Like I said, sooooo close to being five stars for me but it was hard to ignore the choice of narrative because we need to have more books about the domestic events that have changed the landscape of the United States.
Profile Image for Vidya Tiru.
538 reviews145 followers
April 2, 2020
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 more
The book starts off with a brief narrative of what happened on the day of the bombing and then shifts to what happened and continues to happen after. I love that the book focuses on the aftermath of the tragedy and shows the impact of this event on those who remained, on the ones who lost loved ones in the tragedy. It also emphasizes the strength and resilience of the survivors including the Survivor Tree – the elm tree that survived the blast.
I certainly did not know about this tree until I read the book, and it was inspiring to find out about it. The Survivor Tree continues to provide hope and growth through its seedlings.

The Illustrations
Nicole Xu’s hauntingly beautiful ink and Photoshop illustrations capture the mood of the text perfectly, whether it be in gray and black tones to show the bombing itself or somber shades like gray and brown to capture the grief or additions of blues and greens to show the green seedlings of hope. The faceless renditions of people conveys a universality of all these feelings (the grief, the suffering, the terror, the trauma as well as the strength, the resilience, the help, the hope, the comfort).

Additional Notes
While the book notes that other tragedies will occur, it also shows through both powerful yet simple text and the accompanying illustrations that there is always hope, and there is always help.
The appendix includes author and illustrator notes, brief biographies of individuals interviewed for this, as well as additional resources that readers can use (a bibliography of books about community strength and internet resources).

In Summary
A must read. This is a wonderful resource to engage in conversations with children regarding tragedy, terror, grief, helping and healing the community, and hope. And while different, it is somehow a timely and timeless lesson too.

Note: Considering the subject matter, I would let parents and caregivers read the book first and then pass it on to their young readers, especially the youngest ones since you know your young ones best.

Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the eARC of the book; these are my honest opinions after reading this book.
Profile Image for Amit Verma.
Author 4 books8 followers
January 30, 2020
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 turn their back.
Artwork is wonderful.
It is cohesive with narration.
Language is a little bit tough for little kids.
But tale carries message and purpose.
It tells tale tale of helping each other.
Very nice work to read and gift to young readers.
Thanks netgalley and publisher for review copy.
Profile Image for Danielle Hammelef.
986 reviews124 followers
January 14, 2021
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.
6,104 reviews66 followers
November 3, 2019
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!
Profile Image for Cynthia.
392 reviews
December 7, 2019
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.

Profile Image for Becky.
589 reviews8 followers
December 30, 2019
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.
Profile Image for Leah Horton.
405 reviews13 followers
November 3, 2019
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 mourning. I loved how during the embers of this tragedy Hope was found. The survivors tree... was something I was unaware of. The idea of the saplings of this tree standing charred at the site of this horrendous tragedy growing and bringing life and hope is such a beaut like idea.

The images are simple. Beautiful. Haunting. They fit so well with the heavy story they help weave.

While I read this Garth Brooks-The Change played in my brain and I was moved to tears again.
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews181 followers
July 3, 2020
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. Because of this odd third person configuration, the poignant story of The Survivor Tree is not strong enough to carry the story to the heart – instead it remains depressing even when it talks about hope.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS
Profile Image for Panda Incognito.
2,891 reviews53 followers
February 29, 2020
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 others, but it is only a three-star book for me because of two major issues.

Firstly, it provides almost no information about the bombing itself. Someone who was an adult at the time might not think that this is necessary, but most people born after the event don't even know about it, and children reading this now are twenty-five years distanced from this event. Even though the author wanted to focus on the aftermath, the book ought to provide more information and context about what actually happened. Even the author's and illustrator's notes are scarce on detail.

Secondly, I'm not sure what age group this is aimed towards. Because it deals with a terrorist attack, mass deaths, and the resulting trauma, it's not the kind of story you want to read aloud to your five-year-old, but because it doesn't provide detailed information about the attack, address the terrorist's motives, or explain exactly what happened that day, it doesn't work as an educational resource for older children. It really is just a book about "help and healing," but the inspiring story would have more impact if it was directed to a more targeted audience and provided context for children who have never even heard of the Oklahoma City bombing before.
Profile Image for Tasha.
4,117 reviews103 followers
July 12, 2020
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 upright. It survived and became a beacon of hope for those who were impacted by the bombing. In spring, someone collected its seeds which then became part of the annual memorial service for the victims. As new tragedies happen, and they did and will in the future, those seeds and seedlings from Oklahoma City start the healing process and show that survival is possible and hope can return.

Barton’s words ache on the page. They are impossible to read without a deep feeling of mourning and loss, without recognizing what happened and what will continue to happen. The weaving of the story of the elm tree into the book is masterfully done, offering a glimpse of green and a path to the future. Barton writes with such empathy here. He allows the story to be told in all of its anguish and pain, and yet makes sure that hope has its place there as well.

The art by Xu is extraordinary. She uses the roots of the tree to intertwine with and embrace those in mourning, to show how interconnected we all are to one another. Done in ink and digitally, the art is a strong mixture of ethereal colors and grounding tree roots, people and spaces.

A powerful and evocative book about tragedy that celebrates life. Appropriate for ages 8-12.
Profile Image for Stephanie Bange.
1,575 reviews13 followers
January 3, 2021
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 carries readers through that day and the emotional roller coaster that survivors, families of victims and survivors, and first responders experienced after. Careful to take his time and be objective, he explores their emotions and thoughts. He also shares several paths of healing that they explored. There is much empathy and comfort to be found in his beautiful text. Much understanding and patience. Much hope and looking forward to a better future.

Nicole Xu's debut picture book, her illustrations were rendered in ink and Photohop. They are appropriately dark at the beginning and get lighter as survivors begin to move on. A stunning match with Barton's carefully selected text. Backmatter includes Author's and Illustrator's Notes, a list of Barton's interview subjects (with a brief bio), recommended readings of how others have worked their way through similar tragic traumas, and useful websites for more information.

This would be incredibly valuable tool to share whenever a traumatic event occurs and should be in every counselor and therapist toolkit. It can open conversations with groups and with individuals.

Highly Recommended for PreSchool-grade 12.
Profile Image for Tirzah.
899 reviews11 followers
September 5, 2020
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 National Memorial, and the Survivor Tree. This is a well-written story I recommend to teachers and parents/guardians, for it teaches children that healing is possible after terrible loss and suffering.

My personal story: I was 6 years old living in a nearby state when the bombing happened. I think it was '96 (will have to ask my parents for exact year) when my family and I visited the site while in OK visiting relatives. I was little and therefore, did not fully comprehend the horror, but I remember feeling very sad when explained to me. In 2015, I read an article on interviews with some of the survivors and I was very sad again and much more aware of how awful the tragedy is. Reading the picture book still makes me sad, but makes me glad how many worked together to help those who were affected.

Great for: 2nd grade & up

Teaches: history, how to help others heal, ways to heal after tragedy
Profile Image for Jennifer.
558 reviews19 followers
December 5, 2019
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 way to honor those affected by the events of April 19,1995. These words by Barton are perfect (especially repeating “not all at once,” to reinforce that healing takes time) and Nicole Xu’s faceless-and-yet-totally-descriptive characters add so much to the story of the Survivor Tree. I hope every child gets a chance to read this book and learn more about how to take care of each other in this world, especially after tragedy.

Add this book to your preorder list now. Share the story. Feel the love.

Profile Image for Linda .
3,659 reviews40 followers
May 18, 2021
I remember this day. Parents rushed to my school after rumors that other buildings would be targeted. It was a day, even so far away, that touched every one of us. Sadly, there have been so many other tragedies since 1995. Chris Barton focuses a little on the day itself, but more than that, he shows the good that those closely affected have done and continue to do for others, in memory of those lost and injured. One focus is the elm by the Murrah building that survived. They didn't know that it would, but it did! People collected its seeds and began growing seedlings. Now, many years later, those seedlings grown into trees give more seedlings, planted in many places for remembrance. Nicole Xu's illustrations carry the mood from dark to light as Chris tells the story of the tree, the memorial built, then the museum. For those who want to read that tragedy can turn to goodness, this is a book that shows such caring. There is added information at the back, with resources and a few biographies of those intimately connected to that day.
Profile Image for Jessie.
1,941 reviews26 followers
April 19, 2022
Without being particularly explicit about it, this is a book that's very willing to look at death and at bad things happening (and even at people causing those bad things). It ties in very well to teaching kids to look to those who help but also to thinking about how they can help and that helpers sometimes need help themselves.

The Survivor Tree is the center of the story here, and it's the image used throughout the illustrations. But I love how much we see the roots, that community and togetherness and the comfort in that is so much of the story here. I think what's very clearly articulated here--something that I deeply want out of any book about the bombing--is a point of view on what we remember for. And here, we remember towards comforting others, helping others, and being community.

A lot of other reviews point out how this book doesn't deal with specifics, but I think that's balanced by the ways that it does (some of which are precisely the same things that others name as too general happening to "some" or "many"!). The balance worked for me.
Profile Image for Gabrielle Stoller.
1,333 reviews23 followers
January 4, 2021
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 a Karen Kingsbury fiction tale and now, this book for younger audiences.

The color palate of stark white and black and bits of green (with other little bits of color mixed....it's striking. It's thought provoking. Sometimes books with the strongest message do not need all the accoutrements.
Profile Image for Amy.
2,649 reviews23 followers
December 18, 2020
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 without more details about the event, too vague for older children who are 25 years removed from the event. The illustrations are truly lovely though and add a great deal to the ambiance of the book.
Profile Image for Diane.
6,671 reviews
December 24, 2020
“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 every year, they are sent to victims and survivors of other tragedies.

Includes a list of primary source interviewees and other recommended reading.

Profile Image for Mila Mikhail.
Author 7 books22 followers
January 12, 2023
This book is not so much about the Oklahoma City bombing itself, but about its aftermath and especially the Survivor’s Tree. In fact, I’d say it’s about trauma and healing in general because there’s really not much mentioned about the OKC bombing or the people involved. The perpetrators are not named, the survivors are not named and the victims are not named either.

The illustrations are beautiful and the writing is gentle for the subject matter. In short, it teaches children that even if something absolutely horrible happens to someone, there is hope and healing that comes after. It also lets the reader know that whatever happens to them, they don’t have to go through it alone.
Profile Image for Molly.
2,224 reviews
February 22, 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 behind.
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