1953 (Photo: Bettman, via Getty)
1953 (Photo: Bettman, via Getty)

BooksOctober 2, 2020

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

1953 (Photo: Bettman, via Getty)
1953 (Photo: Bettman, via Getty)

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  Dog Man #9: Grime & Punishment by Dav Pilkey (Graphix/Scholastic, $19, 6-9)

“You’ll howl with laughter!”

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

Winner of the junior fiction prize at the recent children’s book awards. A lush spy adventure set in Singapore, reviewed here.

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

A ginormous hardback absolutely heaving with cuteness, eg a kākāpo carrying a kapu rangaranga (takeaway cup) and a kiwi hiding in a pair of kamupūtu (gummies).

4  The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King (Gecko, $30, 6+) 

Tintin but in Lyttelton, reckoned Toby Morris. “The story is fantastic – there’s a town with secrets, sea creatures, an overbearing mayor, and a whiff of the supernatural in the air.”

5  I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Walker Books, $17, 3+)

A charmer but a wee bit controversh due to its ending, as summarised by Wikipedia: “He accuses the rabbit of stealing his hat. After a page turn, we see the bear sitting on a rustled patch of ground, wearing the red pointy hat. A squirrel enters and asks the bear if he’s seen a rabbit wearing a hat. The bear answers negatively and defensively, implying he ate the rabbit and ending with ‘Don’t ask me any more questions’. The squirrel exits, leaving the hatted bear sitting alone.”

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

“I was struck by how simple you could make the language around this difficult subject. We overcomplicate things as adults, our judgement gets clouded by guilt and prejudice.” – Ātea editor Leonie Hayden, when the School Journal first published this work.

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

“Peter’s stories will never lose their relevancy for New Zealand children” – Penguin

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

Just announced: a sequel!

“In Mophead Tu, Selina is crowned Commonwealth Poet and invited to perform for the Queen in Westminster Abbey. But when someone at work calls her a ‘sellout’, Selina starts doubting herself. Can she stand with her people who struggled against the Queen … and still serve the Queen?

From the sinking islands in the South Seas to the smoggy streets of London, Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem is a hilariously thought-provoking take on colonial histories and one poet’s journey to bridge the divide.”

Out November 12.

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

Maybe a good counter to the endless hamster-wheel of very small ideas, eg Mummy do cats wipe their bottoms, Mummy do ants wipe their bottoms, Mummy do dust mites wipe their bottoms, Mummy do coronaviruses wipe their bottoms, etc etc

10 The End of the World is Bigger than Love by Davina Bell (Text Publishing, $24, 13+)

Via Text: “Identical twin sisters Summer and Winter live alone on a remote island, sheltered from a destroyed world. They survive on rations stockpiled by their father and spend their days deep in their mother’s collection of classic literature – until a mysterious stranger upends their carefully constructed reality.”


1  The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charles Macksey (Ebury Press, $40, all ages)

Sweetness and light and an Instagram account.

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

3  The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King (Gecko, $30, 6+) 

4  Dog Man #9: Grime & Punishment by Dav Pilkey (Graphix/Scholastic, $19, 6-9)

5  Mihi by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press, $18, 3+)

A simple, striking new board book that we predict will be in every ECE in the country soon – it ties into certain curriculum strands beautifully, but more than that: it’s a book that builds kids up.

6  Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (Hachette, $38, 13+)

For 13 to 36+ years, quipped Unity Wellington in this month’s email. Clearly a dig at our dorkiness, but also, accurate. (Edward forever!)

7  The Nature Activity Book by Rachel Haydon & Pippa Keel (Te Papa Press, $35, 5+)

An investment piece. Except it’s actually quite cheap!

8  Let It Go: Emotions Are Energy in Motion by Rebekah Lipp & Craig Phillips (Tikitibu, $20, 5+)

From the creators of Aroha’s Way.

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

A prequel to the most excellent Hunger Games.

10 No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by Greta Thunberg (Penguin, $10, 8+)

Let’s hope so.

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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