What makes a bestselling New Zealand kids book? This list looks at eight of the bestselling kids books and what makes them so popular. Filled with classics and recent gems, everyone should know at least one of the wonderful stories on this list. These are the eight Children’s & YA titles in the running for the NZ Bookshop Day Bestseller of the Decade competition. Vote now for your favourite, and let children’s books reign supreme!
Badjelly the Witch by Spike Milligan (Puffin)
Not your typical fairy tale. The enchanted adventures of Tim and Rose as they attempt to save their cow Lucy from Badjelly the witch. A mouse, an eagle and God step in to save the day. Spike Milligan’s ingenious and unbridled humour bound up with quirky illustrations has charmed so many, and continues to do so. Badjelly is the baddest witch out, and she’s coming for you!
Grandma joins the All Blacks by Helen McKinlay (HarperCollins)
Helen McKinlay brings her signature humour to this endearing tale, which is a sequel to the equally hilarious Grandma’s Week Off. With the help of a bit of marmalade the unconventional Grandma saves our national rugby team. It’s the type of book that gets everyone giggling.
Hairy Mclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd (Puffin)
Generations have enjoyed following the adventures of the mixed pedigree protagonist and his gang of canine friends and their encounters with their feline antagonist Scarface Claw. The inventive rhyming story and captivating illustrations makes this an excellent book for reading aloud to your young ones.
Herbert the Brave Sea Dog by Robyn Belton (Potton & Burton)
Tim, his Dad, and his dog, Herbert, are heading to a cottage in Marlborough Sounds by boat when Herbert falls overboard. Based on a true story, this heartwarming book has a timeless, old-fashioned feel to it, with gorgeous full-spread watercolour pages. A gorgeous and emotionally rewarding book, which is a treasure on any bookshelf.
The Little Yellow Digger by Betty and Alan Gilderdale (Scholastic)
Based on a real-life experience for the authors, this book is an enduring Kiwi classic. The beautifully illustrated book works through bigger and bigger tractors getting stuck in the mud before the day is saved by the unlikeliest hero, the eponymous Little Yellow Digger. The rhyme and bright, engaging illustrations make this another excellent book for reading aloud.
Moo and Moo and the Little Calf too by Jane Millton (Allen & Unwin)
This is the story of how two cows and a calf became the faces of the damaging 7.8 magnitude Kaikōura earthquake, the aftermath of which is still being felt. Their story captured the imaginations of Kiwis nationwide and internationally, and this wonderful illustrated picture book highlighted the strength and tenacity of the people of Aotearoa.
The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith (Scholastic)
A recent surprising and sudden international hit and perennial bestseller locally, this wonderful story is winning everyone over with its classic kiwi humour. If you haven’t already seen the video of the Scottish grandma reading The Wonky Donkey to her grandson, you need to. The captivating and catchy rhyming story is a joy to read aloud, no matter your age.
The 10pm Question by Kate De Gouldi (Longacre Press)
The 10pm Question was the Overall Winner and Young Adult Fiction Award Winner of the New Zealand book awards for Children’s and Young Adults in 2009, as well as People’s Choice winner in the Montana Book Awards. Kate De Goldi subtly deals with momentous life events and the toll of mental illness, while still capturing the heightened anxiety of the main character. This unusual, quirky and thought-provoking book should be on everyone’s must-read list.