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(Photo: Getty Images/Rafael Ben-Ari)
(Photo: Getty Images/Rafael Ben-Ari)

BooksAugust 1, 2020

The Unity children’s bestseller chart for the month of July

(Photo: Getty Images/Rafael Ben-Ari)
(Photo: Getty Images/Rafael Ben-Ari)

What’s the best way to get adults reading? Get them reading when they’re children – and there’s no better place to start than the Unity Children’s Bestseller Chart.


1  Sleepy Kiwi by Kat Merewether (Illustrated Publishing, $20, 0-3)

Black-and-white board book by the author/illustrator of all the Kuwi books. Tiny bubs love to look at black-and-white stuff and adults love to look at books that aren’t garish and inane: win-win.

2  Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby, and Piripi Walker (Lift Education, $20, 8+)

A finalist in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, illustrated by Spinoff superstar Toby Morris.

3  My First Words in Māori by Stacey Morrison, Ali Teo, John O’Reilly (Penguin NZ, $20, 3+)

There’s also now a set of 50 flashcards, which is a very cool idea.

Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary by Kat Quin & Pānia Papa (Illustrated Publishing, $35, all ages)

Another NZCYA finalist. Hypothesis: the key to the success of the Kuwi books is that all the creatures have such god damn cute eyes. Anime-esque, all lashey and huge and wet, and they always look like smiley eyes too because they’re pushed up into curves by plump little cheeks. They are eyes that fix on you from the shelf, and stare sweetly, beseechingly. On the cover of this book, they’ve actually done the eyes in a winky gloss while the rest of the picture is matte. Love me, those eyes insist. Buy meeeee.

5  Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press, $25, 5+)

Also up for NZCYA gongs.

Winners will be announced at an online ceremony from 6pm on 12 August. You can plug in on YouTube here or via Facebook, here.

6  Māui and Other Legends by Peter Gossage (Penguin NZ, $40, 3+)

“The first advance copy arrived from the printer just after Peter died,” wrote Paula Morris in 2016, in a moving tribute to Gossage.

7  The Seven Kites of Matariki by Calico McClintock & Dominique Ford (Scholastic, $19, 3+)

“Long, long ago, in a valley full of laughing creeks and ancient trees, there lived seven little sisters…”

The World’s Worst Parents by David Walliams (HarperCollins, $27, 6+)

Haven’t read it but at a guess, there’s a fat one and a stinky one and one who talks funny and a bunch who chronically and criminally neglect their children. LOL!

9  The Little Kiwi’s Matariki by Nikki Slade Robinson (Duck Creek Press, $20, 3+)

A moonlit mad dash through the Aotearoa bush with Kiwi, Weka, Ruru et al.

10 Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy by Alain de Botton and Anna Doherty (Affirm Press, $40, 8+)

“Designed to harness children’s spontaneous philosophical instinct and to develop it through introductions to some of the most vibrant and essential philosophical ideas from history” – publisher’s blurb.


1  The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, $30, 13+) 

The prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy (which is rich and deep and intelligent, by the way) tells the origin story of diabolical president Coriolanus Snow. Spoiler: he was an absolute creeper as an adolescent, like the worst bits of Reddit bundled up into a privileged, narcissistic, damaged teenaged boy.

There are girls online who are like “I’m in love with young Coriolanus Snow” and let me tell you that is exponentially worse than being in love with Edward Cullen.

2  The World’s Worst Parents by David Walliams (HarperCollins, $27, 6+)

Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary by Kat Merewether & Pania Papa (Illustrated Publishing, $35, all ages)

4  Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press, $25, 5+)

5 Slime by David Walliams (HarperCollins, $23, 6-10)

For a minute there Walliams was cancelled; evidently it didn’t stick.

6  Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan (Text Publishing, $21, 9-13)

Adventures in Singapore. The Spinoff’s own Sam Brooks, haver of adventures in Singapore, is reviewing it for us soon.

7  Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Ardern Wowed the World by David Hill & Phoebe Morris (Puffin, $25, 6+)

Funny thing happened when this was advertised in the Scholastic book club flyer. Emily Writes wrote about it for us.

8  Sleepy Kiwi by Kat Merewether (Illustrated Publishing, $20, 0-3)

9  Aroha’s Way by Craig Phillips (Tikitibu NZ, $20, 5+)

One of a slew of books published lately to help children understand and counter anxiety.

10 Burn by Patrick Ness (Walker Books, $28, teen)

There be dragons. (BTW dragons are everywhere in children’s books right now – watch for a kiwi/dragon crossover.)

Keep going!