At Jerusalem’s Gate by Nikki Grimes

At Jersualem’s Gate offers poetic meditations on what people involved in the events leading to Christ’s resurrection might have thought and felt.

At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by David Frampton. Eerdmans, 2005. 48 pages.

Reading Level: Picture Books, ages 8-10

Recommended For: Ages 6 and up

At Jerusalem’s Gate begins with the triumphal entry we now call “Palm Sunday.” A free verse poem presents the story from the perspective of an observer. From there, poems move through the Pharisees and Sadducees plotting about Jesus to the Passover, Gethsemane, Jesus’s betrayal, all the way to the cross and finally the resurrection. Much of this book reflects on the events leading to Christ’s resurrection, making it a great choice for Lent or Holy Week.

In her author’s note at the beginning, Grimes raises some interesting questions regarding the Easter story: who rolled the stone away? is one such question. Others relate to how certain people felt, why some (like Mary Magdalene) didn’t recognize the risen Christ at first, and how different events transpired. Grimes is clear that the resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, but she takes poetic license (like she does in Voices of Christmas) to enter into the details in the margins.

Frampton’s woodcuts have an iconic feel, not dissimilar to the iconography in Orthodox or Anglican churches. And yet, the images are fresh and contemporary at the same time. They add to the gravitas of the book in a way cartoon-style images would not.

All in all, this is an interesting and rewarding read, particularly for those of us who’ve read the biblical accounts enough to know them by heart. It’s easy, when life gets busy, to simply go through the motions of Holy Week and Easter services without taking the time to ponder what those real people may have seen, thought, and felt. The events of the gospels are true, historical accounts, and we would do well to stop and ponder God’s marvelous story. This book, however, is not a cute, cheerful “Easter book.” It’s probably best for older children who want to move on from those earlier Easter picture books.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Worldview/Moral Rating: 5 out of 5

Literary/Artistic Rating: 4 out of 5

Read more about our ratings here.

Related Reading From Redeemed Reader

A Review: Something Better Coming by Megan E. Saben (another Easter picture book that rewards older readers)

A Review: He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter (yet another unique Easter picture book)

A Resource: Christian Easter Gifts for Kids and Teens (a book list)

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