It should come as no surprise to parents that Harry Potter, Hairy Maclary, Wimpy Kid, David Walliams and the Treehouse series are still top of the tree when it comes to this year's Whitcoulls Kids' Top 50 Books list.

It's the number of Kiwi titles that's the real surprise.

"Interestingly, the number of New Zealand titles in the Kids' Top 50 is significantly more than for the adult Top 100 Books list, which Whitcoulls also compiles annually," said Whitcoulls head book buyer Joan Mackenzie.

Local titles represent 14 out of 50 in the children's list, as voted by children, compared with just three in the entire Whitcoulls Top 100 last year.


Moo and Moo and the Little Calf Too, the tale of three cows stuck on a tiny mound of dirt after the Kaikoura earthquake, is a newcomer to the kids' list this year, along with Tu Meke Tui.

These and the perennial favourite series Kuwi the Kiwi, The Wonky Donkey, the gross-out Baa Baa Smart Sheep and Stacy Gregg's horse tales make for a strong New Zealand showing. Voting was up by a massive 45 per cent on last year.

"I think that the popularity of Kiwi writers with our children reflects the importance of stories that mirror a recognisable landscape, and an environment to which they can easily relate," Mackenzie said.

Despite the ongoing success of any picture book with a kiwi in it, publishers have long been mystified as to why that changes as soon as children hit puberty.

"It's like black and white, the difference between the New Zealand children's market and New Zealand adult fiction," said Matthew Simpson, national sales manager for HarperCollins.

While local picture books do extremely well, the same cannot be said for books aged 9+. Even Gregg is published by HarperCollins UK, not the local arm, and her books aren't set here.

"Reading for older kids and adults tends to be internationally driven," Simpson said.

"By the time they're eight or nine, they're immersed in the pop culture trends coming out of the US and the UK. That middle-grade age group, that's where all the money is, but we just can't get our own series off the ground. There has to be a reason, but I don't know what it is."

Meanwhile sales of teen fiction have dropped considerably since the likes of US author John Green's The Fault in our Stars or The Hunger Games hit. It remains to be seen how Green's latest book does when it reaches our stores this month - it has a tuatara in it.

The top 10 books or series in order are:

1. Harry Potter series - J. K. Rowling (Bloomsbury)

2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series - Jeff Kinney (Penguin Random House)

3. Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy - Lynley Dodd (Penguin Random House)

4. The World's Worst Children - David Walliams (HarperCollins)

5. Treehouse series - Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton (Macmillan)

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle (Penguin Random House)

7. Geronimo and Thea Stilton series - Geronimo and Thea Stilton (Scholastic)

8. Matilda - Roald Dahl (Penguin Random House)

9. Tom Gates series - Liz Pichon (Scholastic)

10. Wonder - R. J. Palacio (Penguin Random House)