Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Learning About Jesus Series

The Learning About Jesus Series by Carol Edwards is both promising and disappointing.
In this series of self-published books, Edwards introduces children to Jacy, a young eagle who (in book one, Jacy's Search for Jesus) loses his mother before he can learn to fly. But Jacy remembers his mother's words: "If we ever become separated, look for Jesus. Jesus will never leave you. He will take care of you." So that's exactly what Jacy tries to do. He wanders around the forest asking other creatures where he can find Jesus. Most can't help him, but a donkey who happens to be walking through the forest gives Jacy some hints about who Jesus is.
In book two (Jacy Meets Betsy), Jacy meets a green rabbit named Betsy. We don't know why she's green, but she tells us her mother says, "It doesn't matter what color you are. Deep down we're all just the same and we all want the same things." Betsy joins Jacy in his search for Jesus and his mother, and they run into a sleepy bear along the way. The bear seems to know a lot about Jesus. "You've been looking in the wrong places. Jesus has been with you from the very beginning. He knew you before you were born," he tells Jacy. Immediately after filling Jacy in on the basics of Jesus, the bear disappears into thin air, and Jacy concludes he was an angel.
In book three (Jacy Faces Evil), Jacy and Betsy bump into a deer and tell him how they've been lost in the forest due to a strange crow. The crow cringed every time they mentioned Jesus, and while he insisted he didn't know anything about Jesus, later tried to lead them to a place where Jesus had once spent a lot of time. Jacy and Betsy end up in a dark hole, instead, stuck because Jacy still doesn't know how to fly. Fortunately, the bear angel reappears, gives Jacy a pep talk, and Jacy learns to believe in himself enough to fly. It's been a close call, but now the deer wants to join the pair on their search for Jesus and Jacy's mother.
Book four (Jacy: A New Beginning) is scheduled for release in 2009, and according to the author, Jacy finds himself more assured and sets off to find his mother with renewed vigor. Along the way, he demonstrates and teaches what he's learned about Jesus.
What I Like: The basic idea for this series is a good. It shows a relatable character learning about and trusting in Jesus. The characters are often likable (though not perfect) and interesting, and the illustrations by Daniel J. Frey are often bold and vivid.
What I Dislike: Like so many self-published books, this series would benefit greatly from an experienced editor. The books would be far stronger if they were cut down considerably; there's a lot of meandering and unnecessary, weak sections. There are also inconsistencies in the typesetting (for example, sometimes the author capitalized "Him" when speaking of Jesus and sometimes she doesn't) and there are improper paragraph breakdowns. The illustrations are also inconsistent; some are quite good, while others are quite amateurish.
All that said, I must confess my three year old loves these books! She asks me to read them over and over, and often spends time "reading" them herself. Clearly, there is kid appeal here. I only wish the series were more polished.
Overall Rating: Because my daughter likes the series so well: Good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but as I say, my three year old likes it, too.
Publishing Info: Majestic Publishing, 2002, 2006, 2008; ISBN: 0975531409, 0975531417, and 0975531433; hard back, $15.95 each
BUY NOW at for $15.95 each.
Special Info: Check out the publisher's website for free Bible-related kids' puzzles.

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