My best NZ Picture Books

In response to Bridget’s post (Check it out here) on her favourite NZ picture books, I decided to respond with a list of my own.

Mine possibly come for more of a classic picture books I loved as a child point of view, but I have found kids still love them today, and I enjoy reading them to my own children now.

Without further ado, also in no particular order…

A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy


No NZ book list will ever be complete without Margaret Mahy. This is my favourite of hers and I enjoy both sets of illustrations, interestingly enough, both by the same person. I only wish they had a slightly more NZ feel to them. Perhaps in the next incarnation? A classic that will remain so.

How Maui Slowed the Sun by Peter Gossage



Peter Gossage will always be remembered for his truly amazing illustrations. I love that Maori myths and legends can be enjoyed for always through his wonderful books. The sun in this made it my favourite.

Remember that November by Jennifer Beck and Lindy Fisher


A new favourite of mine. I love it when a great picture books also teaches you something. And this is such an important part of NZ history.

Grandpa’s Slippers by Joy Watson


This is a really funny story with clever illustrations which can bring about inferential thinking. I this this would make a great little play for a class.

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy & Scarface Claw by Lynley Dodd

I think excellent illustrations are so important for me as a sign of a good picture book and I love Lynley Dodd’s. The fact that I have read these two about a hundred times or more apiece to my son could have meant they ended up in my most hated pile, but they didn’t. The rhyme is perfect.

Pepetuna by Denise Whitmore


This book is so well crafted in all respects. The pictures made in some kind of multi-media way and the two connected stories running alongside each other make it a must have I believe. The science link too is fantastic.

The Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate by Joy Cowley


I was given this book when I was 4 and I loved it then and love it now. I was slightly disconcerted when the new illustrations came out, but I have grown to love them just as much. The fierce little woman should definitely be a must have for any little women in your lives. Or men for that matter, my son loves it too.

Whose Beak is this? by Gillian Candler


Another new entry for me. Again, the simple illustrations and the connection to NZ wildlife make this an awesome book to explore with wee ones.

The Kuia and the Spider by Patricia Grace


Oh Robyn Kahukiwa, how I love your illustrations. This is also special for me as it features Mana Island and Plimmerton, which is where I grew up. Patricia Grace has written a wonderful story to celebrate some elements of Maori culture.

The Witch in the Cherry Tree by Margaret Mahy


Another Margaret Mahy stunner. I love the language in this one. The cakes getting “warmer and browner” gets me everytime.

Bridget did 12, but I’m going to leave it at 10 (plus a sneaky extra one because I couldn’t choose which Lynley Dodd I liked best!). Too many more vying for 11th/12th position!

How about your favourite NZ picture books? Do you think it is important for us to read NZ picture books to our children/students still?



My best NZ Picture Books

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