The Survivor Tree has been named a finalist in the 2018 Oklahoma Book Awards.

The Survivor Tree

Children's Author

Gaye Sanders

Hardcover Picture Book  |  $20.00 U.S.*

December 2017  |  The RoadRunner Press

ISBN: 978-1-937054-49-6

* A portion of

each book sale

will go to the

Oklahoma City National

Memorial & Museum

in downtown Oklahoma City.



On Friday, March 16, at 5 p.m., after a day of talking with local students about writing, Gaye will give an author talk and sign books at the Elk City Carnegie Library in Elk City, Oklahoma.  Admission is free.

PH: 580.225.0136.

On Saturday, March 24, at 1 p.m., Gaye will visit with readers—young and adult alike—at a book signing at Brace Books & More, 2205 N. 14th Street, in Ponca City. PH: 580.765.5173.

On Monday, April 16, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Gaye will talk about her debut picture book and sign copies at Full Circle Bookstore in Oklahoma City.  PH: 405.842.2900.

The Survivor Tree is also available at your local indie bookstore, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, and from online retailers.


When you are a writer, you rotate between writing, editing, and revising.  But you are also, at all times, thinking about what your next story will be.

Many times, we choose the story we are writing.  We may get a spark of an idea, and work to develop it into a full story.

But sometimes, in a rare moment, a story finds us.

Almost four years ago, on a visit to New York City, my sister and I had the honor of visiting the 9-11 Memorial.  During our visit to the museum gift shop, I discovered a book about the Callery pear tree that survived 9-11. Entitled The Survivor Tree—Inspired by a True Story, it is by Cheryl Somers Aubin and illustrated by Sheila Harrington.  Until that moment, I had not realized New York had such a tree or such a book.

New York's tree has a much different story than ours. It was recovered from the rubble and placed in the care of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, nursed back to health, and transplanted back on the Memorial grounds in 2010. But as with ours, it grew to be a cherished symbol for New Yorkers.

I decided to buy that book, and then find the book about our own Survivor Tree upon my return home.  Back in Oklahoma, I began to look for one, only to discover there wasn't one.

There needed to be.

The idea sat on my heart for a couple of years.  You could say, the seed of the story planted itself there, and wouldn't go away.  And  I knew that a story had found me.  A story that needed to be told.

You see, I lived here, in the Oklahoma City metro area, on that horrible day.  I was teaching that bright blue morning when we heard the news and gathered around the televisions.  Wondering, horrified, how this could happen here.

That was the day the Oklahoma Standard was born.  And we watched in the following hours, days, weeks, months, and years, as our fellow Oklahomans proved to the world that no matter what hate may wrought, good will overcome.

I first wrote the story from a third-person narrative.  It was okay—basically a narrative account of the bombing written on a child's level.  But it failed to strike a chord in my heart. This was painful treacherous territory. How could it be told in a way that would uphold our promise to never forget for children? 

That is when I knew the tree needed to tell the story.  And so, that is what I did.  I wrote my story from the tree's point of view.  And cried. 

The publishing industry is highly competitive, and many great books are not published because they don't find their way to the right literary agent or the right editor or the right publishing house. I began to submit my manuscript to agents in New York City.  But they did not seem to understand how significant this tree was—and remains—to Oklahomans, both old and young. 

They did not seem to understand how important it should be to all Americans.

In the end, I found a publishing house right here in Oklahoma:  the award-winning RoadRunner Press.  Its editor, Jeanne Devlin was editor-in-chief of Oklahoma Today magazine when the bombing occurred in 1995, and led the team that published the Oklahoma Today memorial issue of the tragedy, 9:02 a.m., which was later released as a book by the University of Oklahoma Press in Norman.  She knows the heart of this tree. 

And so that is how the book came to be.

The Survivor Tree will be released Saturday, Nov. 4, at the most appropriate of places:  under the boughs of The Survivor Tree.  I do hope you will join us.

It is my hope that this picture book will help to uphold our promise to never forget April 19, 1995, and the 168 people we lost more than twenty years ago.

It falls to us to share this piece of Oklahoma and American history with a new generation. May they learn what can happen when hate is allowed to fester in one's heart—and the lesson of Oklahoma . . .  

That love will always overcome evil.

Gaye Sanders



Where to purchase

The Survivor Tree
& Upcoming Events


The Survivor Tree picture book is available at the gift shop of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, 620 N. Harvey Avenue, in Oklahoma City. (Store entry does not require admission, but if you've not toured the museum it is a must-see.)

A portion of each book sale will go to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.