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A child looks at (more) children's books

Our 6-year-old critic reviews some recent releases

By Andrew Oglesby (age 6)

Andrew Oglesby
Andrew Oglesby


George Washington
Tenzing Norgay

(CNN) -- Children's books don't always engage the audience they're intended for, which is why we asked 6-year-old Andrew Oglesby, son of staffer Christy Oglesby, to review a selection of books for young readers.

In his last set of reviews, Andrew was excited by pill bugs and frightened squirrels, but not quite as entertained by poems about the planet.

As a voracious reader, he was willing to take on another stack of literary efforts. Here are his edited thoughts.

'John, Paul, George & Ben'

By Lane Smith
Hyperion Books for Children
36 pages, $16.99

This book is about presidents, leaders and generals when they were boys and what character trait they had -- smart, independent, honest, things like that. It says things about their character and where they lived, and I liked that part. But I don't exactly know what war they are talking about.

The real funny part was about the noisy one, Paul [Revere], how he was shouting so loud about the pretty big underwear. [In the book, Revere is a clerk and a customer needs extra-large underwear.] It was funny how that woman was mad. She must have been embarrassed. He was so loud when he screamed that the "Redcoats are coming!" And the noisy one reminded me of Beethoven because Paul had problems with his ears from ringing the bells, and Beethoven was deaf.


The bold one was John [Hancock]. The funny thing about him was how he writes so big. When he was writing on the chalkboard his name almost filled up all the space, and when he was a grownup he just kept on writing that way.

This book was so goofy. The author made lots of stuff up. The honest one, who was George [Washington], why would he cut down every single tree in the apple orchard? Chop. Chop. Chop. No one could cut down that many trees in that much time. And when someone has been in too much noise, they don't get wobbly eyes like Paul.

'Another Important Book'

By Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Chris Raschka
Joanna Cotler Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
27 pages, $6.99


At first when I saw it, I thought it wasn't going to be a nice book. It looked like a baby book. But now I think it's nice. It has this part that says when you're 1, your life has just begun, and that means you're a baby. And that is true because you just came out of your mom's tummy.

I like when it gets to 4 because then you can talk and walk and the book says you can run, and that means you could race your friends and say things like, "I can beat you!" That's what being 4 years old is about. At 5 and 6, it says, "You learn a lot of tricks." You can count, tell time, do your fractions and lots of different things. I really like the author who made it, too, because it tells you the important things about your age.

'Once Upon a Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids (and Dragons)'

By Jean E. Pendziwol, illustrated by Martine Gourbault
Kids Can Press
30 pages, $14.95

This girl and the dragon go to the park, but when they got on the slide -- when they got to the end of the slide somehow they landed in a storybook. And once they got in the storybook, the tale was Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf tried to trick them, but he didn't get away with it. The girl keeps on reminding the dragon what's not safe. It looks like a boy, but it's really a girl.


When they got to Chapter Two, I could tell that was the Hansel and Gretel story because the witch lived in some kind of gingerbread house and she says, "Come in, eat my candy. It's delicious." Since dragons love candy, he went to get the candy. But the girl pulled his tail and she said, "We can't go in there. She's going to eat you." In the real Hansel and Gretel story the boy and girl just go in the house, but this is stranger safety.

Kids should keep away from strangers because even if the stranger knows you, they still might hurt you whether you know it or not. Never go with a stranger, never go in their house and never eat what they offer you, even if it's your favorite food or candy. In Snow White it's about never open the door to people you don't know.

Whenever a stranger gets you, kick him, yell, just keep on doing things till help comes. Make a scene, do anything to get help. I'm just really wondering why a dragon even wanted to go to the park, and if he wouldn't have brought the storybook, they wouldn't have been in any of that danger.

It would be a nice stranger safety book at least. It would be more of a teaching book. It's not a good bedtime book.

'Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses?'

By Stanley Coren
Kids Can Press
64 pages, $12.95

I'm not patient, and this book is so big. I bet that whoever wrote this book is a scientist because they know so much about dogs. People who know so much about something are scientists. The stuff in it is amazing.

My opinion of this is that it's a very nice book as a science book. I was bored but I liked learning about dogs. I think that's all of my opinion.

'Tiger of the Snows'

By Robert Burleigh and Ed Young
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Simon & Schuster
29 pages, $16.95


(Editor's note: The book is a verse biography of Mt. Everest Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, who joined Edmund Hillary as the first persons to summit the tallest mountain in the world.)

The way [writer Burleigh] wrote it doesn't exactly make me that happy. He kept on writing and writing and then wrote an end mark. He just wrote words until he wanted to stop. That's something unusual. Not many people who write do that, maybe it's something they did in the old days.

If I wrote a book, I would write, "The cat ran up the hill, period. Then he ran down, exclamation point. Then he ate his dinner, period. I wonder what he ate for dessert, question mark, things like that. I think this book is like "Earth Magic" [a book of poems Andrew reviewed earlier]. It's something that a 15-year-old would like or someone in college. I don't want it for a bedtime story.

'Could a Tyrannosaurus Play Table Tennis'

By Andrew Plant
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
27 pages, $8.95

It's cool how the narrator [author] has the same first name as I do. But what's so funny is how those dinosaurs could not do any of that stuff. The first dinosaur could not be an acrobat. And the second dinosaur could not play basketball. And the silliest of all is playing underwater hockey. That's not even a sport!

And that one with the weights, he couldn't lift that. I am so bigger than him, he's smaller than a TV stand! He's only 2 feet long because the book tells us at the bottom. It tells if it's from the Cretaceous period or lives in Asia or a herbivore and everything about it. It even tells you what the dinosaur's name means.

I would say people my age and older people would like this book because they would think it's funny.

'Sing, Nightingale, Sing!: A Book and CD for Discovering the Birds of the World'

By Francoise de Guibert, illustrated by Chiaki Miyamoto
Music by Daniel Goyone
43 pages, $13.95


I normally like books that tell a story and have some action in them. This is a science book because it tells you different things about the birds. Any book that has what dogs and birds eat and different things about them, that means it's a science book. I wouldn't want to read it again.

It tells about the birds that can live in the garden and the forest, the mountains, near the oceans, and the pond and zoos, just lots of places and environments where birds can be. Some birds fly, some don't. There was the kingfisher in there, and I already know about that bird.

The music is great. It makes me want to hug, it was nice. I like the CD more because it has music that sounds pretty and nice. The music made me happy when the birds were chirping and pecking.

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