All of a Sudden and Forever

Help and Healing after the Oklahoma City Bombing

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

A profoundly moving nonfiction picture book about tragedy, hope, and healing from award-winning author Chris Barton.

Sometimes bad things happen, and you have to tell everyone. Sometimes terrible things happen, and everybody knows. On April 19, 1995, something terrible happened in Oklahoma City: a bomb exploded, and people were hurt and killed. But that was not the end of the story.

Those who survived—and those who were forever changed—shared their stories and began to heal. Near the site of the bomb blast, an American elm tree began to heal as well. People took care of the tree just as they took care of each other. The tree and its seedlings now offer solace to people around the world grappling with tragedy and loss.

Released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, this book commemorates what was lost and offers hope for the future.

“[A] sensitively written and thoughtfully illustrated resource.”—starred, School Library Journal

“An affecting story of loss . . .”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

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Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category 5 Kinds of Nonfiction, 5KN: Narrative Nonfiction, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2020
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 40
Publication Date 2020-02-04
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF053210, JNF053030, JNF025210
Dewey 363.325/140976638
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 800
Guided Reading Level S
ATOS Reading Level 4.6
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Author/Illustrator note, Awards, Bibliography/further reading, Original artwork, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: Chris Barton

Chris Barton is the author of acclaimed nonfiction picture books including Dazzle Ships, Whoosh!, and What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?. His books have won several awards including a Sibert Honor for The Day-Glo Brothers and an Orbis Pictus Recommended for All of a Sudden and Forever. Chris lives in Austin, Texas, with his family.

Illustrator: Nicole Xu

Nicole Xu is an illustrator who was born in Shanghai, China, and grew up in Vancouver, Canada. She attended Rhode Island School of Design and has worked with numerous newspaper and magazine clients. Her work often explores themes of loss, healing, and empathy. Her picture book All of a Sudden and Forever is an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her dog. See more of her art at


  • Prairie Bloom Award Nominee, Nominated, 2022
  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2021
  • Orbis Pictus Recommended Book, Commended, 2021
  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2021
  • Writer's League of Texas Book Award Finalist, Short-listed, 2020
  • Kirkus Best Children's Books, Winner, 2020
  • School Library Journal Best Book of 2020, Winner, 2020


The Horn Book Magazine

“[A] sensitive and sober examination of the Oklahoma City bombing.”—The Horn Book Magazine


“This ultimately triumphant work of nonfiction reverently pays tribute to the memory of those whose lives were forever changed by this tragedy.”—Booklist

School Library Journal

“[A] sensitively written and thoughtfully illustrated resource.”—starred, School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“An affecting story of loss . . .”—starred, Kirkus Reviews