(Photo: Maskot/Getty)
(Photo: Maskot/Getty)

BooksJune 27, 2020

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

(Photo: Maskot/Getty)
(Photo: Maskot/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  Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press, $25, 5+)

A finalist in this year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and one of our favourites – impeccable production and design, an important story, sometimes sad and more often funny, and most of all it’s a kick-ass woman standing up for herself, and for little kids like her.

2  1 to 20 Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers (Laurence King, $22, 2-5)

“Specific breeds and types of animal are labeled (seven wig-wearing pigs include a Tamworth with a pompadour and a Gloucester Old Spot with a green mohawk), and subtly humorous details are everywhere, including the studious expressions worn by ’16 chickens reading Dickens’ and the near-unforgettable sight of 19 snakes weaving their way through delicate cakes and pastries.” – Publishers Weekly

3  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Collector’s Library, $17)

A weird and beautiful story; this edition is bound in cloth, with a ribbon marker that your kid will play with incessantly while you read, which sounds cute but will rapidly become infuriating.

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

Definitely write about this and/or the rest of the Hunger Games for NCEA, it is absolutely dripping with political themes and Classics references and symbolism and quotes you’ll actually be able to remember.

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

Another NZCYA finalist; also one of our favourites, obviously – and not just because one of our Tobies made it.

6  Maui & Other Legends: 8 Classic Tales of Aotearoa by Peter Gossage (Penguin, $40, 3+)

A staple, Plunket should give it out in their new-parents packs instead of those rubber bathmat things.

7  Wildlife of Aotearoa by Gavin Bishop (Penguin, $40, 6+)

See above, this would be an epic pack, someone please fund this instead of buying flowers for gazillionaires. (Also, another notable NZCYA finalist.)

8  Slime by David Walliams (HarperCollins, $23, 6-10)

The five-year-old appears to be leaning heavily toward only wanting David Walliams books, send help.

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

Also up for an NZCYA award; it begins:

“Tropical rain drummed on the red clay roof tiles of Raffles Hotel in Singapore. A skinny boy watched from below the balcony, hidden in the shrubbery, as a white-jacketed waiter hovered over the tables on the covered verandah. Silverware gleamed in the lamplight.”

10 I Am Jellyfish by Ruth Paul (Puffin, $20, 3+)

A beauty, truly – a cannot-go-wrong gift.


1  King of Shadows by Susan Cooper (Penguin, $20, teen)

“He wakes up in a different room with a boy he doesn’t recognise talking to him in a heavy Elizabethan accent. He says he thought he had the plague and is relieved to see him better. He realises he travelled back 400 years in time, to the year 1599, when the Globe Theatre was first built. He meets William Shakespeare and acts with him in the play he had rehearsed for in his own time, and experiences theater as it was originally intended. Before he knows it, he is back in the hospital bed, awake and unsure whether what he experienced was real.” – Wikipedia synopsis

2  Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Penguin, $23, teen)

“Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming – especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life.” – blurb

3  Slime by David Walliams (Harper Collins, $23, 6-10)

4  The Noisy Book by Soledad Bravi (Gecko Press, $25, 0-6)

What noise does a trumpet make? What about a raindrop? Spinach?

5  Burn by Patrick Ness (Walker Books, $28, teen)

“We know from legends and fairytales that dragons can be tricked. Ness shows that although monsters exist in every world, there are many more who wish to overcome them; and that even in the smoking ruins of civilisation, there is room for hope.” – the Guardian

6  Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson (Two Hoots, $20, 1-6)

Julia Donaldson is always awesome but this looks particularly great; every page is a colourful guessing game, and there’s a very sweet nod to ye olde Hungry Caterpillar. Preview here.

7  A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy (Hachette, $20, 1-6)

The little boy said, “Mother, there is a lion in the meadow.”

The mother said, “Nonsense, little boy.”

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

Featuring a tūī with a hamarara (umbrella), a seal pup in a poraka (jersey) and a pīwakawaka in oversized hū (shoes). And that’s just on one page.

PS this is up for an NZCYA award, too.

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

10 I’m Sticking with You by Smriti Halls (Walker Books, $23, 1-6)

“Bear and BFF Squirrel are thick as thieves, tight as a drum. Despite superficial differences, such as height, weight, and girth, and the fact that these differences wreak havoc on Squirrel’s belongings – not to mention launching Squirrel skyward while the pair are on a seesaw – Bear swears to follow Squirrel everywhere and to do everything together. That is, until Squirrel decides it’s time for the pair to split up; Squirrel needs to be alone.” – Kirkus Reviews

Keep going!