Right before the new year, I learned that School Library Journal has awarded a starred review to my upcoming nonfiction picture book All of a Sudden and Forever: Help and Healing After the Oklahoma City Bombing, illustrated by Nicole Xu and coming on February 4 from Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing:

Barton commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing with a tribute that uses spare text to explain the events, the immediate aftermath, and the longterm ways people helped others. … [T]he author emphasizes the vulnerability and humanity of the victims and their relatives, friends, and neighbors. … Debut picture book artist Xu [depicts people without] facial features or expressions, allowing readers to project their own anger, fear, sadness, love, or compassion onto the characters. … Books that help elementary-age children understand disasters are more necessary than ever, so it is helpful to find such a sensitively written and thoughtfully illustrated resource.

This follows a starred review from Kirkus a couple of months ago. I appreciate the attention both reviews have paid to the work done by Nicole in her picture book debut. What a challenging topic for her first children’s book, and how beautifully she rose to the occasion.