Child reading book while floating on an inflatable ring in pool
(Photo: Maica, via Getty)

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

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  Sapiens: A Graphic History, Volume 1, The Birth of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and David Vandermeulen, and illustrator Daniel Casanave (Jonathon Cape, $48, 11+)


“A fictional Yuval invites us to take a ride on the wild side of history – accompanied by a whole host of globetrotting characters. Together, they cut through the noise of our information-deluged world, step back, and take a look at the really big picture: the entire history of the human species. At the heart of their explorations is a niggling question: how on Earth did an insignificant ape become the ruler of the planet, capable of splitting the atom, flying to the Moon, and manipulating the genetic code of life?”

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

Woohoo Toby!

3  The Noisy Board Book by Soledad Bravi (Gecko Press, $25, 0-3)

More reasons this makes the perfect baby shower gift: Easy to wrap. Too heavy for bub to whack you with. Able to be read even in times of severe cognitive compromise ie sleep deprivation.

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

A classic.

5  A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos (Text Publishing, $26, 11+)

Translated from French, the first in a much-loved series set in a world that has shattered into small pieces of floating land called Arks.

6  Gender Swapped Fairy Tales by Karrie Fransman & Jonathan Plackett (Faber and Faber, $45, 4+)

The Guardian explains:

“When creative technologist Jonathan Plackett and comic writer and artist Karrie Fransman had a daughter, they wondered if it would be possible to create a program that ‘swapped all gendered language in any text’, he to she, daughter to son and so on. Having built it, they applied it to the ur-narrative text, the fairytale, choosing the Fairy Books, edited by Andrew Lang, published at the back end of the 19th century and into the 20th. The result is blunt and impartial, deliberately so: there’s no finer human judgment applied story by story (is a pantaloon male or female? What about a ruffle?), it’s a straight computer-says-she switcheroo. The illustrations are quite special, particularly when they veer into fantasy. I loved the forest full of parrots in Little Red Riding Hood, the lizards and mice in Cinder.”

7  The Not Bad Animals by Sophie Corrigan (Frances Lincoln, $33, 3+)

“Forty-two creatures of ill repute, from scorpions to hyenas, put on their best faces and protest that they’re just misunderstood. In paired double-page spreads, Corrigan first presents for each animal the case for considering it scary or gross, then, with the page turn, allows it to contradict itself. ‘I’m creepy and I’m crawly,’ a spider supposedly gloats. ‘I spin webs from my butt and leave them in places where I KNOW you’ll get stuck in them.’ In the following spread, the spider points out that ‘Only half of my kind spin webs, and we really, REALLY don’t want you to get stuck in them!'” – Kirkus Reviews

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

Brace for a whole new world of “why” questions.

Birds of New Zealand | Ngā Manu o Aotearoa Collective Nouns by Melissa Boardman (HarperCollins, $30, 6+)

Becoming a regular on these lists. “A tussock of takahē”, “a hoon of kākā”, etc.

10 Tu Meke Tuatara by Malcolm Clarke, illustrated by Flox (Mary Egan, $30, 4+)

Beautiful, lush, feverishly bright illustrations. My 20 month-old loves to go through it spotting all the bees.


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

Sketches, sweetness.

2  These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (Hachette, $25, YA)

Five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and counting. Gong’s from the North Shore and wrote this dark, monster-filled take on Romeo and Juliet when she was 19. More here.

3  Harry and the Guinea Pig by Nancy Lambert and Saba Joshaghani, based on the character created by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham (Puffin, $21, 3+)

We’re not sure we’ve ever seen Kirkus Reviews hate a kids’ book so very much.

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

Amped about the Netflix series – it’ll be based on this book, plus the Grisha trilogy that came first, the one that began with Shadow and Bone.

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

From the creators of Aroha’s Way.

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

A favourite at our place. Littler kids will like pointing at the cute animals and toothbrushes and things, too.

7  Aroha’s Way by Craig Phillips (Tikitibu, $20, 3+)

One of the better examples of the many, many “this might help your anxious child” picture books on the market right now.

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

A stalwart of these lists; adventure, set in Singapore.

9  A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (Puffin, $38, 9+)

“This book took me SO long to finish” – Felicia, on Goodreads.

10 His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman (Scholastic, $35, 12+)

Oh, to be 12+ and reading this for the first time.

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