Auckland, the first lockdown, a photo discovered on an iPad that had been commandeered by kids all day (Photo: Daniel, six)

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

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+)

Your newly-anointed Margaret Mahy Book of the Year; “perfect”, the judges said; freshly reviewed for us by Odessa To’o, a rad woman with big hair.

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

Your newly-anointed winner of the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction. Adventures in Singapore, freshly reviewed for us by Sam Brooks.

3  The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology by Joy Cowley & Giselle Clarkson (Gecko Press $40, 2-9)

Very good! Bright and big, a lovely glossy ribbon to mark one’s place, lots of cats.

4  The World’s Worst Parents by David Walliams (Harper Collins $27, 6-9)

This time last year everyone was buying The World’s Worst Teachers. Yawn, lame, derivative. Get Roald Dahl instead.

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

Illustrated chapter book written by the man who made Proust a bestseller. Check out some spreads here.

6  Kid-Friendly Auckland by Ceana Priest (Outdoor KidNZ, $20, all ages)

Pitch for revised edition: Kid-Friendly Auckland At All Levels.

7  Ocean by Hélène Druvert (Thames & Hudson, $45, all ages)

There’s a stonking great squid on the cover. Sold.

8  Across The Risen Sea by Bren Macdibble (Allen& Unwin, $19, 9-13)

Highly recommended speculative fiction by a New Zealand writer, set over the ditch. Think Life of Pi but with a saltwater croc in place of the tiger (also think Waterworld). Plus, there’s a pirate and a massive shark – yet somehow it still feels very real, and worse, just around the corner.

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

A big, bright hardback; each page is a cornucopia of pictures and translations.

10 My First Words in Māori by Stacey Morrison, Ali Teo and John O’Reilly (Penguin, $20, all ages)

Very quickly becoming a classic.


1  The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King (Gecko, $30, 6+) 

“I would say it’s good for kids. It had some real good surprises.” – Iggy Morris, six, in this cool review.

2  Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer (Hachette, $38)

The oft-maligned Twilight story told from the perspective of Edward. The vampire. Who reads minds. It’s really something.

3  Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh (Auckland University Press, $25, all ages)

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

5  Aspiring by Damien Wilkins (Massey University Press, $22, 12+)

Just loped off with the win in the Young Adult category of the children’s book awards, against an incredibly strong field.

Started life as a short story, The Glove, which you can read here.

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

7  #Tumeke! by Michael Petherwick (Annual Ink, Massey University Press, $30, 9+)

Up next for the newly-anointed winner of the Best First Book Award:

“I’m halfway through another kids book, the Kawakawa Criminological and Rugby Football Club, if anyone is interested! A novel for adults, based in the 90s Auckland underground electronic scene, has been on my desk for a while.

And I’d like to follow up #Tumeke! with an album. All the parents out there know that nothing quite matches long summer road trips with a halfway decent kids’ album belting out the speakers of the car.” – Read NZ.

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

Sweet sketches, wisdom.

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

Extremely smug to see this one still here, three months after release. It’s a prequel to the oft-maligned Hunger Games trilogy.

10 The World’s Worst Parents by David Walliams (HarperCollins, $27, 6+)

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