The newly released series of children's picture books, Jacy's Seach for Jesus and its sequel Jacy Meets Betsy, feature some very appealing paintings by illustrator Daniel J. Frey. Jacy is a baby eagle with an oversized bright yellow beak, a vivid pink tongue, and huge white eyes with big black pupils. He encounters equally well-drawn woodland creatures, including a wise old owl (who isn't actually wise enough to know who Jesus is), a feisty squirrel, a lost pony, a green rabbit (yes, race relations arise even in the animal kingdom), and a bear that prays rather than preys. Thus, the visual appeal of these books is something that children ages 2 - 5 will respond to positively.
Unfortunately, the storylines conceived by writer Carol Edwards leave a lot to be desired. Jacy is an eagle who is taught by his mother to sing "Jesus Loves Me" and to know about Christ. Since animals have no souls, we aren't quite sure why eagles would know about Jesus, but if we accept this as a metaphor, then I suppose we can let it ride. The problem is, none of the other animals in the first book, and most in the second book have no clue as to who Jesus is. So, there is the first element of confusion: why is the mama eagle "saved," but no other animals are?
Another problem is the trauma of the story. In book one, Jacy (who cannot fly yet) is blown away from his nest during a storm. He searches for his mother and also for Jesus, but he finds neither by the book's conclusion. That will probably be very unnerving for most youngsters. When book two opens, Jacy has been wandering alone for a full year (eating worms), and still neither his mother nor Jesus has come to his rescue. He meets Betsy, who, ironically, sets a rabbit trap for him and captures him. In time, Betsy decides to free Jacy and then tells him that because she is green she has been ostracized from the community of other rabbits (although her mother said she was okay). Miraculously, Jacy's claw only hurts a little, so they walk away on a long journey. Eventually, they meet Billy Bear, who tells them that Jesus lives in their hearts. Then Billy Bear flies up to heaven and disappears because he is actually an angel.
Obviously, this is some weird theology. Book two ends with Jacy having found Jesus but still not his mother, and he also cannot fly yet. Personally, I fear that the books are too theologically confusing to children, as well as too disappointing for children who do not relish the idea of being separated from their moms. Also, it should be noted that the books have punctuation errors, grammatical flaws, and format mistakes. They needed to be copyedited by a professional before being published.
Perhaps if these books were read to a child by a parent or grandparent who could add some explanation, they might work. However, textually, they are flawed, and this cannot be compensated by excellent artwork. – Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, Christian Book Previews.com
It has been a year since a terrible storm separated Jacy and his mother. Jacy is still in the forest where he continues his search for his mother and Jesus. His path crosses with a strange-looking bunny named Betsy and a wonderful friendship soon develops between the two. Join Jacy again in his search and see everyday life lessons learned, as Jacy and Betsy amuse and delight you in this second book.