What’s the best way to get adults to read? Get them reading when they’re kids – and there’s no better place to start than Unity’s best-selling children’s books.
1 Maui and other legends by Peter Gossage (Penguin, $40, 2+)
The biggest hits.
2 The Sky Rock by John Klassen (Walker Books, $30, 2+)
Huge boulders keep falling from the sky, almost crushing a strange little turtle-type and a strange little armadillo-type. They exist in a sort of lunar landscape. There are giant walking eyes that fire killer lasers. It works because the ideas are completely hectic but the execution is completely calm and factual.
Read this triumph of a picture book and your children, like ours, will soon be happily bellowing “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” I’LL COME CLOSER!” And you’ll be happy to bellow back.
3 How do I feel? A dictionary of emotions for children by Rebekah Lipp and Craig Phillips (Wildling Books, $40, 5+)
A large glossy hardback book, highly recommended by child psychologists and by us.
4 Wonder by RJ Palacio (Corgi Books, $23, 9+)
Critically acclaimed and best-selling since its publication 10 years ago, it is a novel about a boy with a facial disfigurement enduring the social dynamics of school for the first time.
5 The Adventures of Tupaia by Courtney Sina Meredith and Mat Tait (Allen & Unwin, $35, 6+)
From an article we published when this book was released in 2019:
“The cover tells the story. Stars everywhere. Palm trees in silhouette. And two characters: there’s Tupaia in the foreground, her eyes shining, her arm raised, pointing the way, generally beautiful. And there’s Captain James Cook positioned further back – and therefore smaller – all buttons and breeches, clumsy old compass lowered as he looks towards Tupaia, instead, for guidance.
6 The Memory of Babel by Christelle Dabos (Text Publishing, $26, YA)
The third book of The Mirror Visitor quartet is set in a broken world where society is divided between floating celestial rock “arches”.
7 Count Creatures by Julia Donaldson and Sharon King-Chai (Two Hoots, $30, 1+)
Away, we just watched a video browsing of this book and it looks amazing – gorgeous illustrations, very cool flaps and that Julia Donaldson pum parrumpa rhythm. And baby animals! Impossible to be wrong.
8 curious creatures that glow in the dark by Zoe Armstrong and Anja Susanj (Flying Eye Books, $33, 3+)
9 Under The Umbrella Of Love by Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (Scribble Books, $23, 1+)
We are here for whatever Davina Bell wants to give us. Please also check out the excellent picture book Hattie Helps Out and the superb YA The End of the World is Bigger Than Love.
10 The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi by Clare Scott and Amy Haarhoff (Picture Puffin, $20, 2+)
Beautiful illustrations and a cute concept – it’s a riff on the owl and the kitty – but we wish the words matched the rhythm of the original poem better. It’s hard to read aloud.
1 brightest night by Tui T Sutherland (Scholastic, $22, 9+)
More dragons, from the author of the Wings of Fire series. (Sutherland isn’t from here, by the way, but his mother is, hence “Tui.”)
2 Amorangi and Millie’s journey through time by Lauren Keenan (Huia, $26, 10+)
We just started reading this and it’s wonderful. No surprise there – Huia is the best in the children’s book business right now.
3 Tim Te Maro and the Blues Heartsick Underground by HS Valley (Hardie Grant, $23, ages 12 and up)
A very good low stakes cheerful queer YA, set in a school of magic under Fox Glacier. Sam Brooks interviewed the author for us, and she said:
“It was born out of my love of tropes and Draco Malfoy…I wanted to use magic, because I love magic and everyone needs a little escape.
“I figured if there was magic in New Zealand everyone would be real money [casual] on this subject. It’s New Zealand – even if people had it they’d be like ‘yeah whatever’ and if they didn’t have it they’d be like ‘yeah but it’s not that cool’.
4 Atua: Maori gods and heroes by Gavin Bishop (Penguin, $40, all ages)
Buy the Atua children and the Kurangaituku adults and everyone will be insanely pampered.
5 The Boy, The Mole, The Fox And The Horse by Charlie Makesy (Ebury, $40, all ages)
6 One of us is lying by Karen McManus (Puffins, $21, ages 13+)
Five students go into detention, only four come out alive. It’s on Netflix.
7 Adventures of the mittens: Wellington’s famous sound by Silvio Bruisma (Penguin, $20, 2+)
Give thanks that Mittens was well out of Wellington before it became a center of protest. (Don’t worry, he didn’t “go to the farm,” he moved to Auckland. With his family. Not just, like, him on a whim.)
8 The Storm of Echoes by Christelle Dabos (Text, $26, 12+)
Book four of the Mirror Visitor quartet.
9 Skinny Dip: Poetry edited by Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi (Annual Ink, $30, ages 13 and up)
All of the poems in this eclectic little collection are school-adjacent. We released a few early in the fourth quarter last year, for kids in Auckland and Northland who were still stuck at home.
10 If I Had A Dinosaur by Gabby Dawney and Alex Barrow (Thames & Hudson, $16, 2+)
Very well. Click on here and Eddie Redmayne will read it to you.