Children's letters to god: The new collection; compiled by Stuart Hample and Eric Marshall, illustrated by Tom Bloom; Workman Publishing; $6.95.

Movies aren't the only medium in popular culture that trades in sequels. Popular books do it, too.This is the third collection of "Children's Letters to God," following on the heels of two previous best sellers, "Children's Letters to God" and "More Children's Letters to God."

This time around the letters come with whimsical drawings by Tom Bloom - drawings carefully crafted to resemble children's artwork.

I'm easily charmed, and I was charmed by this little book. It's warm, it's clever, it's upbeat. But I finished it feeling uneasy - as if I'd eaten the worm along with apple. The problem is - from the childlike art to the misspellings and penmanship - this book feels like a bill of goods; too concocted, a little too manipulative.

One can almost imagine a breathless editor rushing into a Workman Publishing board meeting:

"I've got it, J.B.!" he says. "Let's do a bite-sized book of cute little sentences, a book that can be read in 10 minutes; a book that trades on America's sentimental notions of kids, religion and animals. We'll make it funny. We'll make it soft-hearted. We'll make it affordable. We'll call it `Children's Letters to God' again."

If that sounds cynical, I'd bet $6.95 it's not far from the truth.

Here are some samples: