Photograph of a young girl curled up in a chair, barefoot, beaming as she reads a picture book.
(Photo: Raul Mellado via Getty Images)

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

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  The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen (Walker Books, $30, 3+)

Klassen, legend, tweeted this after it was announced that Eric Carle, legend, had died on May 23, aged 91:

“Ah Eric Carle. Nobody ever managed such a strong combination of bright life & dignity in the work. The books still feel like clear-eyed statements of design & deep love for the form. All I ever wanted to make was a cover as good as these. RIP.”

In Klassen’s new book a pleasingly ovoid rock falls from the sky, startling a turtle and some kind of … bipedal armadillo rat-faced creature? Absurd enough and beautiful enough that you could give it to an adult and they would legitimately love it.

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

Sounds so intense! And so worthy. But we’ve had a flick through and were pleasantly surprised; ended up buying it.

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

Nascent classic.

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

Invest in a good dozen of these and you’ll have baby showers sorted forever.

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

Won last year’s junior fiction prize at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young People; the new batch of finalists will be revealed next month.

6  Promised Land tales #3: Raven Wild by Caitlin Spice (Promised Land Entertainment, $20, 5-10)

“A reckless young boy named Hawk transitions into a courageous young woman called Raven.”

Spice features in a golden episode of On the Rag, here.

7  Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Spooky Stories by Jeff Kinney (Puffin, $187-10)

Wimpy kid guy.

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

Reviewed here by Toby Morris and his kids.

9  The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne, by Jonathan Stroud (Walker Books, $22, 12+)

“New series by Jonathan Stroud? I have a mighty need” – A.Rae on Goodreads

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

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again – the only thing more marketable than one native bird is lots of native birds.


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

Man someone at the Wellington store really loves this book, it’s barely left the charts in the last year. Sketches, sweetness, borne of Instagram.

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

We’re profoundly confused about which book goes where and how the Netflix series fits in, so thank you to Marie Claire for this piece, which puts the whole Shadow & Bone canon neatly in order.

3  They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (Simon & Schuster, $21, 14+)

“Very little actually happens that we don’t know about before starting the book” – Emily May, on Goodreads.

(Yeah we used this quote the other month but clearly it cannot be surpassed.)

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

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

Via Glamour:

“It spread like wildfire. First there was Twitter chatter, then came the New York Times best-seller list, and soon a film adaptation was in the works. Red, White & Royal Blue is the little novel that could. Without an Instagram endorsement from Reese Witherspoon, a shout-out on Today from Jenna Bush Hager, or any major traditional publicity pushes, Casey McQuiston’s debut romance novel about the First Son of the United States and the Prince of Wales managed to do what few books in any genre manage – it went viral. With seven printings and 100,000 copies in circulation, the book’s popularity was fuelled the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth. (I saw the power of that first-hand at Glamour. After one editor raved about the book, a staff-wide waitlist sprang up as we circulated one dogeared copy around the office.)”

The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen (Walker Books, $30, 3+)

7  Shadow & Bone #1: The Grishaverse by Leigh Bardugo (Orion Books, $20, 13+) 

Please refer to number two, above.

8  Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman (Hodder, $25, 13+) 

From What’s on Netflix:

“Netflix has started production on a new teen LGBTQ romantic drama Heartstopper. Based on the graphic novels by Alice Oseman, it tells the story of two boys who meet at a British grammar school and develop feelings for each other.”

9  Skulduggery Pleasant #14: Dead or Alive by Derek Landy (HarperCollins, $25, 9+) 

“Skulduggery, Valkyrie and Omen return in the 14th and penultimate novel in the internationally bestselling Skulduggery Pleasant series – and their most epic test yet … ”

10 Six of Crows #2: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Orion Books, $20, 13+)

Please refer to number seven, above.

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