A blue-sky day, tī kōuka out the window, a blond, happy little girl sits on a bright red couch in the sun, reading.
Hazel, doing level three right, in Wellington (Photo: Supplied)

BooksSeptember 7, 2021

The Unity Books children’s bestseller chart for the month of August

A blue-sky day, tī kōuka out the window, a blond, happy little girl sits on a bright red couch in the sun, reading.
Hazel, doing level three right, in Wellington (Photo: Supplied)

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 Unity’s bestseller chart of kids’ books.

Young girl on a couch, a puppy beside her, she's wrapped up in a dressing gown and reading the te reo version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Maiana, Auckland (Photo: Supplied)


1  Māui and Other Legends: 8 Classic Tales of Aotearoa by Peter Gossage (Puffin, $40, 4+)

Gossage just topped Little Unity’s monster list of bestsellers dating back to 2018 – zero surprise to see him at the top today.

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

A beautiful hardback stuffed with strategies to help your kid argue with you better. Seriously though, it’s a great book.

3 Mapmakers Race by Eirlys Hunter (Gecko Press $20, 9+)

You can never go wrong with Gecko, and further, this chapter book involves maps and steam trains and a parrot named Carrot. A sequel’s out in November.

4  Pirate Stew by Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell (Bloomsbury, $25, 5+)

Is there someone in your bubble who’s awesome at doing voices? This is the picture book for them.

Black and white photo of a girl curled up reading in a patch of sunlight on a big cushy chair
Amé, Auckland (Photo: Supplied)

5  In Our Own Backyard by Anne Kayes (Bateman, $22, 13+)

A monster of a launch has translated into stunning sales. This YA weaving together Covid-19 with Black Lives Matter and the Springbok Tour was only released in July but in that time it’s climbed to #14 in Little Unity’s all-time bestseller list.

6  Aesop’s Fables retold by Elli Woollard, illustrated by Marta Altes (Macmillan, $38, 3+)

A rhyming retelling, well done, with very charming illos.

7  How Do I Feel? A Dictionary of Emotions for Children by Rebekah Lipp & Craig Phillips (Wildling Books, $40, 5+)

“Overwhelmedness: A feeling or state of having too much to do or think about [ … ] This feeling is a signal that life is too busy and we might need help. We might need to slow down and try not to do too many things.”

8  Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary by Kat Merewether & Pania Papa (Illustrated Publishing, $35, 4+)

Big, bold, absolutely chocka with cute pictures and helpful translations, can double as a HotWheels ramp.

A child is curled in a corner on the floor, head propped up on elbow, riveted by the comic book on floor in front of him. Punga visible out the window.
Quentin, Wellington (Photo: Supplied)

9  1 to 20 Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers (Laurence King $25, 2+)

5 goats wearing coats

7 pigs, 7 wigs

15 bats who are acrobats

10  Roald Dahl: Revolting things to Touch and Feel (Puffin $21, 1+)

Toddlers won’t be in the least revolted by touching all the gross stuff, but for parents this is much more fun than most tactile board books.

Illustrated by Quentin Blake, obvs.

Two girls reading a picture book, sitting on a bed
Abby (left) and Etta, West Auckland (Photo: Supplied)


1  Adventures of Mittens by Silvio Bruinsma & Phoebe Morris (Penguin, $20, 3+) 

Into Mittens, into the concept of a book about him, into the illustrations … not so much into the words.

2  How Do I Feel? A Dictionary of Emotions for Children by Rebekah Lipp & Craig Phillips (Wildling Books, $40, 5+)

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

Sweet sketches and wisdoms. A stalwart of this list.

4  Six of Crows #1: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Hodder, $20, 13+)

Ocean’s Eleven but with teenaged criminal prodigies, set in a fantasy city inspired by Amsterdam.

Two young kids in a blanket fort, poking their heads out to read a huge picture book.
Gabriel (left) and Hugo, Christchurch (Photo: Supplied)

5  Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (St Martin’s, $33, 16+)

This one’s about a romance between a prince of England and the son of the US president. So good. See also One Last Stop, where two girls fall in love on the subway in New York, plus time travel. See also also: Tim Te Maro and the Subterranean Heartsick Blues, a new debut by local writer HS Valley, in which two boys fall in love at a magical school on the West Coast. Never read anything quite like it before and we are very into it. Queer romance FTW.

6  Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy Board Book by Lynley Dodd (Puffin, $16, 3+) 

Straight back home to bed.

7  Charlie Tangaroa & the Creature from the Sea by T K Roxborogh (Huia, $25, 9+) 

The newly-anointed Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, and junior fiction category winner, is about a kid in a small coastal town who already had a lot to deal with before the atua started scrapping on his beach. A sequel is underway.

8  Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin (HarperCollins, $23, 13+) 

Concluding the NYT-bestselling Serpent & Dove series.

A boy reading a chapter book, beautiful blue-sky day, he's inside on a bright red couch, tī kōuka outside the window
James, Wellington (Photo: Supplied)

9  The Pōrangi Boy by Shilo Kino (Huia, $25, 10+) 

Huge fans over here. Kino just won the YA category of the children’s book awards with this debut. She’s written about the book here; we’ve interviewed her here; and you’ll find raves about The Pōrangi Boy scattered through our awards coverage.

10 Falling into Rarohenga by Steph Matuku (Huia, $30, 13+)

Go Huia! Three in the top 10 this week. And Falling into Rarohenga is a standout, deftly wrapping in real-life family traumas with a spooky, exciting adventure through the underworld. There’s lots of steam, as in literal thermal steam. I loved the taniwha most of all. And Matuku’s evocative clear writing.

Keep going!