Outside the Gate is the newest children’s book for young readers by storyteller and author, David Edgren. Based on the events in Acts 12 where Peter escapes from prison, Edgren creates an engaging and compelling story that is grounded in biblical truth. Told from the perspective of the slave girl Rhoda, Outside the Gate is both heart-warming and historically accurate. There are many little details that give a glimpse into what life might have been like in the first-century Middle East and enable readers to build a picture of everyday life in the days of the early church.
The true richness of Outside the Gate is the child-centred focus of the story. Through the eyes of Rhoda, young readers are given the opportunity to be an active participant in the gospel. Rhoda explains the communion service—first as an observer, then in an achingly beautiful moment, as a partaker. I was deeply moved by the portrayal of the adults in the story and their care for Rhoda. James, the brother of Jesus, Cleopas, John Mark and others are all written in such a way that their love for Jesus jumps off the page.
In addition, Rhoda’s journey of faith moves her from being an observer from a distance to being a true disciple of Jesus as she cares for the less fortunate in her community. This translation of faith into action feels like a natural progression in the story and thankfully lacks the “preachy” feel that often plagues books aimed at children. Instead, Rhoda’s story will inspire children to share their faith from their own experience in ways that are meaningful to them.
It’s rare to find a book that is beautifully written, is full of warmth and yet is profoundly grounded in Scripture. Outside the Gate achieves all this and more. It would be perfect for independent readers aged five to 12, or to be read aloud by an adult or older sibling. There are some great discussion questions included at the end of the book that will value-add to the shared reading experience. Outside the Gate is poignant, beautifully detailed and pitched at just the right level for children and adults alike. It’s a true gem that you don’t want to miss!
Outside the Gate is available from Adventist bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, and online.
Karen Collum is a teacher and the author of Advent for Kids.