Little Unity’s front doors on High St, Auckland (with birthday balloons) (Photo: supplied/image: Tina Tiller)
Little Unity’s front doors on High St, Auckland (with birthday balloons) (Photo: supplied/image: Tina Tiller)

BooksSeptember 4, 2021

Kids books special: The top 25 bestsellers from the last three years at Little Unity

Little Unity’s front doors on High St, Auckland (with birthday balloons) (Photo: supplied/image: Tina Tiller)
Little Unity’s front doors on High St, Auckland (with birthday balloons) (Photo: supplied/image: Tina Tiller)

To celebrate a special little Auckland bookstore’s third birthday, staff members Hera Lindsay Bird and Briar Lawry bring us the top 25 sellers since doors opened in September 2018.

1  Māui and Other Māori Legends, by Peter Gossage (Penguin NZ)

Topping our charts year on year, rekindling nostalgia in millennials and Gen X and making tamariki go “hey, we read that at school” since ages ago. Peter Gossage (rhymes with “sausage”) is synonymous with kid-friendly takes on pūrākau Māori. We’ve sold a massive 566 copies in three years.

2  No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, by Greta Thunberg (Penguin)

Greta Thunberg’s concise and urgent collection of speeches, No One is Too Small to Make a Difference, was so popular it didn’t budge from our counter for years and is still selling like whatever the Swedish version of hotcakes is.

3  Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, by Gavin Bishop (Penguin NZ)

One of the most majestic books to come on the scene in recent years, there’s a reason why this has had pride of place in our window ever since we opened. Gavin Bishop at his best and brightest and up there with any other large format visual non-fic.

4  Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi, by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby & Piripi Walker (Lift Education)

Toby Morris! And Ross Calman and Mark Derby and Piripi Walker! The dive into Te Tiriti that blew so many teachers and students and parents away that it jumped from school resource to public access bilingual comic treasure.

5  Lizard’s Tale, by Weng Wai Chan (Text Publishing)

How many times have we brandished this at middle grade shoppers and excitedly said: “it’s a sneaky spy story story set in Singapore during World War Two and it’s EXCELLENT and also won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the NZCYA Awards last year!”?? So many times.

6  The Noisy Book, by Soledad Bravi (Gecko Press)

What does the baby say? Waaaa! What does the electrical socket say? No! This bright and bold Gecko Press title is the new baby staple. Guaranteed to be read so often it would fall apart if it weren’t for the sturdy card pages. Also available in te reo.

7  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo (Penguin NZ)

The book that kicked it all off! At Little Unity we’re up to our ears in inspirational biographies, but this book, which recaps the lives and accomplishments of famous women throughout history, is an essential resource for young feminists.

8  I Am Jellyfish, by Ruth Paul (Penguin NZ)

A go-to for fourth birthday parties with the easy pitch of: good rhyme, lovely illustrations, a bit of action in the middle, a nice message of being yourself and, importantly, a glow-in-the-dark cover.

9  The Bomb, by Sacha Cotter & Josh Morgan (Huia Publishing)

Take on the burden of too much conflicting advice or do things your own way, with exceptional amounts of panache (and splash)? The Bomb won the biggest of big prizes at the NZCYA Awards in 2019 and it has been in hot demand ever since.

10  Big Ideas for Curious Minds, by Alain de Botton (The School of Life)

What can Buddha teach us about bullying? Can de Beauvoir help with homework? The School of Life have produced this non-fiction stunner about famous philosophers through history, with questions and prompts to get the conversation started.

11  Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury)

Does anything else need to be said about the most famous cupboard dweller in literature? Still going strong, over 20 years on.

12  The Secret Commonwealth: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman (Penguin)

The first in a trilogy of prequels and sequels, which accompany Pullman’s groundbreaking His Dark Materials trilogy. Who else but Pullman could make Paradise Lost a children’s blockbuster? Hands down one of the best kids authors in living memory.

13  Here We Are, by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins)

Oliver Jeffers’s warm and witty guide to life on Earth has overtaken the traditional baby shower booties and bib, and fast become an essential resource for all new humans.

14  In Our Own Backyard, by Anne Kayes (Bateman)

If you’re wondering how a book released this past winter can rocket to an all-time bestseller list, rest assured that In Our Own Back Yard has earned its place. Timely, reflective and compelling, this went gangbusters at its launch, has been snapped up by the dozen for class sets, and carved out a perma-face-out spot in the YA section.

15  Ocean, by Hélène Druvert (Thames & Hudson)

It’s been a bonanza few years for ocean books, but our absolute favourite is this stunning, large-format production by French illustrator Druvert, with intricate aquatic cutouts, frilly coral reefs and squid legs akimbo. The perfect gift for young Jules Vernes and Vernesses. Druvert’s equally compelling Anatomy was also in the top 25!

16  The Trials of Morrigan Crow: Nevermoor, by Jessica Townsend (Hachette)

Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor series is fast gathering speed. In Nevermoor we meet Morrigan Crow, a cursed child fated to die on her 11th birthday, who is given a chance to compete for a place in the prestigious Wundrous society. Rowling for a new generation.

17  My First Words in Māori, by Stacey Morrison, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly (Penguin NZ)

The first foray into kids-focused reo Māori learning resources from the Morrisons (Aotearoa’s power couple of reo Māori revitalisation) is this accessible and fun visual dictionary, brought to life by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly.

18  A Winter’s Promise, by Christelle Dabos (Text Publishing)

This sophisticated fantasy quartet by French author Dabos, is Pullman in a beret and breton stripes. A richly conceptualised universe, about god, fate and the importance of a good archivist. We’re on the edge of our seats, waiting for the last installment, due to be released this October.

19  All the Ways to Be Smart, by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribe)

Sometimes it feels like Davina Bell is the centre of our Little Unity universe, winning hearts and minds from board books to young adults fiction and literally everything in between. All the Ways to Be Smart is charming, encouraging and witty – and it’s our go-to for parents looking for a gift to give to creches and kindies when their child moves up and on to the next smart adventure.

20  101 Collective Nouns, by Jennifer Cossins (Lothian)

A tribe of kiwi? A smack of jellyfish? This bright and basic book on collective nouns is a brilliant way to introduce kids to animals of all kinds. Sometimes the simplest ideas have the longest legs.

21  Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary, by Kat Quin and Pānia Papa (Illustrated Publishing)

It’s big, it’s blue, it’s got Kat’s irresistible illustrations and Pānia Papa’s highly trained reo eye. It’s a very special book that will be pored over by kids and their grown-ups alike.

22  Tu Meke Tūī, by Malcolm Clarke & Flox (Little Love)

What a time it must be to be Flox – winning over kids via train murals AND best-selling picture books! While her iconic style is what grabs the eye, Malcolm Clarke’s environmentally conscious storytelling warrants kids flipping it over and demanding to start all over again.

23  My First Pop-Up Dinosaurs, by Owen Davey (Walker Books)

Dinosaurs? Check. Pop up? Say no more. Aside from names and pronunciations, this book is entirely textless, but Owen Davey’s fresh and contemporary pop-ups do their own talking. The perfect gift for budding paleontologists.

24  The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness (Walker Books)

The young adult market is saturated with overwrought dystopias, but Patrick Ness’s sophisticated and thrilling trilogy, Monsters of Men, shines like damascus steel in a sea of plastic cutlery. Todd is born into a world without women, where men can hear each other’s thoughts. But when he finds a young woman in the woods, the town’s dark secrets begin to unravel. Cannot overhype this enough.

25  Encyclopedia of Grannies, by Eric Veille (Gecko Press)

Not a weekend goes by at Little Unity without a group of kids howling over this zany Gecko press title, and delightedly cataloguing their grandmothers. A fresh and contemporary picture book which celebrates grannies in all their infinite variety. (Sometimes you find a Grandpa in a Granny’s bed, did you know?)

Keep going!