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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

BooksFebruary 8, 2023

The Unity Books children’s bestseller chart for January

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

In the life-cycle of a reader we bet it’s the childhood reading memories that matter most. Here are Unity’s bestselling books for January.


1  Sleepy Kiwi by Kat Quin (Tikitibu, $20, babies)

A bold, black and white board book for newborns and up.

2  Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi by Clare Scott (Puffin, $23, 3+)

A kiwi take on the Owl and the Pussycat, featuring a midnight feast, and plenty of honey.

3  Diper Överlöde Kid: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #17 by Jeff Kinney (Puffin, $18, 6+)

Here’s what the blurb says to expect: “When he decides to tag along with his brother Rodrick’s band, Löded Diper, Greg doesn’t realise what he’s getting into. But he soon learns that late nights, unpaid gigs, fighting between band members, and money troubles are all part of the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. Can Greg help Löded Diper become the legends they think they are? Or will too much time with Rodrick’s band be a diper överlöde?”

4  Pax by Sara Pennypacker with illustrations by Jon Klassen (Harper Collins, $19, 3+)

Get the tissues out. Here’s a taster: “Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild.”

5  Wildlife of Aotearoa Colouring Book by Gavin Bishop (Puffin, $13, 4+)

Can’t go wrong with this one. Colouring in Gavin Bishop’s illustrations? Sign me up, get me the felts, and move over kids.

6  Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy (Frances Lincoln, $21, 3+)

A rambunctious classic from Queen Mahy. There are coins back there of course, but so much more…

7  Collaborations: Cat Kid Comic Club #4 by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic, $20, 6+)

Fun graphic book about kids who make comics instead of tidying their rooms and doing chores.

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

A fantastic te reo Māori learning resource for home, school and preschool.

9  Maui & Other Legends: 8 Classic Tales of Aotearoa by Peter Gossage (Penguin, $40, all ages)

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

A journey through some of the big philosophical ideas in human history, for kids. 


1  A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson (Hardie Grant, $23, 14+)

Intrigued. This is Jackon’s debut moider novel with teen detectives, and Winner of the British Book Awards’ Children’s Book of the Year 2020, and Shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize 2020, as well as being a New York Times number one bestseller. And we are just ready to tuck up, with a cuppa and Tim Tams, and dive right in. The blurb goes: “The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the crime, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure.” 

Great to know that the teens of today are as into gruesome whodunnits as the kids of the 90s were into pulp horror. You can get nostalgic about those gems with Erin Harrington’s essay right here.

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

The story of Instagram characters, turned book, turned movie, Mackesy’s Winnie-the-Pooh-eque tales are a global hit.

3  Adventures of Mittens: Wellington’s Famous Purr-Sonality by Silvio Bruisma (Penguin, $20, 3+)

In the words of Scarface Claw, YEEEEOOOOOWWWFTTTZZZZZZ.

4  Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (Hardie Grant, $23, 14+)

Part two in the Good Girl’s Guide to Murder trilogy.

5  Wildlife of Aotearoa Colouring Book by Gavin Bishop (Puffin, $13, 4+)

6  Atua: Maori Gods & Heroes by Gavin Bishop (Penguin, $40, all ages)

The big, beautiful winner of all the awards last year, this should be on the top 10 lists all year, every year.

7  Five Survive by Holly Jackson (Farshore, $23, 14+)

HOLLY JACKSON IS ON A ROLL! This one is a standalone thriller, and is, yet again, a bestseller in the US and the UK, and here, too.

8  Little Yellow Digger by Betty & Alan Gilderdale (Scholastic, $22, 3+)

Alphabet adventures with the accident prone little digger is always a lovely time.

9  Big Book of Mysteries by Tom Adams (Nosy Crow, $35, 5+)

Love the continuation of spine-chills and creepy tone in this January list. This is an anthology of real-life mysteries: the Loch Ness monster, Big Foot, alien abductions, hauntings… definite Unsolved Mystery vibes for the parents that occasionally get uncomfortable flashbacks to that 90s TV phenomenon.

10  Stolen Heir by Holly Black (Hot Key, $33, 14+)

The first in a fantasy trilogy set in the world of Elfhame, this is a bestselling novel with consistently stonking ratings on GoodReads. Here’s a taste:

“Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There, she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge.”

Keep going!