Bookseller Top Picks: Books That Surprise
There’s nothing better than finding a book that not only has a great story but is also one that features beautiful illustrations. It’s the kind of surprise that makes you want to go back and read the story again and again, or just take a bit of time to enjoy the pictures!
At the Children’s Bookshop in Christchurch we try to source books from all over the world that are not just enjoyable, or important, or funny, or educational – but that have an element of surprise in them too.
In no particular order, these are a few of the books we love that have surprised us in some way.
Royal Orchid series – Denika Mead
There are two books in the Royal Orchid series by Wellington author Denika Mead. They feature dragons and magicians and a team of heroes fighting for good. The surprising thing about these books is that the author was just fifteen years old when the first book was published and turned sixteen when she published her sequel. These are great books for young adult readers, full of mystery and magic.
The surprising thing about these books is that the author was just fifteen years old when the first book was published and turned sixteen when she published her sequel.
Sometimes it can be difficult for authors to strike the right balance between being entertaining and helpful when dealing with difficult subjects, but Australian psychologist Karen Young has done exactly that with her books on anxiety and self-esteem for young readers. The books have been praised by social workers and teachers throughout Aotearoa as must-haves for any children feeling the effects of anxiety.
Hey Warrior by Karen Young.
The Dragon Hunters – James Russell
There are a lot of books on dragons to be found, but these beautifully illustrated books by Kiwi author James Russell are a series that kids love. The trilogy has deceptively simply illustrations that hold your attention and the stories are fun and full of adventure.
All the Dear Little Animals – Ulf Nilsson
Translated into English by Gecko Press, this is a charming little story that deals with the big issue of death. It’s an off-beat tale, illustrated with summery pastel drawings, all of which help make the story work in a beautiful, understated way.
Because – Mikhail Baryshnikov
This is a wonderful story about grandmothers and the surprising things they do. It’s bright and bold and beautiful and a further surprise comes in finding the author is celebrated ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov.
This is a wonderful story about grandmothers and the surprising things they do.
Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls – Anita Ganeri
This wonderful hardback book showcases fairy tales from around the world that celebrate strong independent women who are not reduced to being wives, stepmothers or witches! Anita Ganeri shares the stories of women who have wit, courage and fearlessness in spades.
Ngā Atua – Maori Gods. Robyn Kahukiwa
It’s always a pleasant surprise to find that a children’s book can hold its own in any adult’s bookcase and so is the case with Robyn Kahukiwa’s Ngā Atua. This is an introduction to the Māori pantheon of gods and their significance, powers and place in Aotearoa’s story.
Why? – Adam Rex and Claire Keane
The age-old children’s cry of ‘Why’ gets a very surprising treatment in this book from Adam Rex. The question might be familiar, but the answers certainly aren’t! It’s always great to find a book that takes the road less travelled and this highly entertaining book does just that.
Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls, Ngā Atua and Why?
Teacup – Rebecca Young
This is a wonderful book that addresses some of life’s big journeys with hope and reassurance. Matt Ottley’s beautiful and dreamy illustrations complement the story in a way that makes it easy for children to read and absorb as well as simply be delighted by the pictures.
Corduroy – Don Freeman
It’s always a good surprise to find that books that have been around for a long time can still find new audiences. This is the case with the classic story of Corduroy, a bear in search of a button and a friend, that was first published in 1968 but has not grown old in the retelling. It’s the simplicity of the story that works so well, alongside some extremely cute illustrations of this very loveable bear.
The Children's Bookshop
03 366 5274