Rachel’s gift guide for close observers

It’s a fun time of year to choose gifts for readers. Over the next three weeks, we are sharing our 2023 gift guide featuring some good books that we love.

Click on the covers to go straight to our online shop: or of course, visit your local bookshop. When you order you can add a note if you would like us to gift wrap and add a card/note.

If you’re in New Zealand, make sure to order by 17 December for our Christmas courier delivery, and orders over $100 receive free shipping.

I think my job as a publisher may be a little like being an observologist.

Publishers are curious, we look closely at books and then look again later, we watch how they go in the world, listen carefully to how people talk about them, we observe how readers react. And we try to be very good noticers when we are editing, proofreading and printing the books themselves.

So this week’s recommendations from me are four books that enjoy and appreciate observology of all sorts for all ages.

— Rachel


2023 bestseller for 8 to 12 years

For curious observers & budding natural scientists

A handbook for mounting very small scientific expeditions by Giselle Clarkson.

“A charming work sure to spark a lifelong habit of looking closely at the natural world.” Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“A magnum opus—Giselle has a great ability to see the world from a child’s perspective.” Radio New Zealand

The Observologist is for the child who worries about going on holiday because who’s going to feed the snails? And for adults and children who find the extraordinary in the everyday.

The Observologist

Review of the year for 4 to 7 years

For a boisterous read-aloud & the quiet noticers

The hunt for a Grizzled Grist is a triumph for gentle, observant Liam, who spots the Grist and saves the day.

“If you can write a book in which the phrase ‘It’s finis diem!’ successfully rhymes with ‘He’s eaten Liam!’ then
I will be your friend for life.” School Library Journal (US)

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist

Tried & true for 1 to 4 years

For talky toddlers & observers of expressions

This Gecko Press favourite is a looking searching puzzle book with many layers and a fantastic read aloud.

18 colourful animals do something new on each page—can you spot it?

Something small changes on every page turn: animals disappear, turn around, cry or sleep. Young children love spotting the changes and, at the same time, get to know animal names, colours, expressions, emotions and how to count.

Also available in te Reo Māori.

Who’s Hiding?

Guaranteed to please for 7 to 9 years

For young detectives & observers of human nature

A friendly, philosophical and funny detective series set in a friendly forest, following the adventures of the rather tired—and often hungry—Detective Gordon and his chirpy assistant, Buffy.

“Gordon is no ordinary detective. Not only is he a toad but he makes his first appearance sound asleep at his desk, face-down on an important document.” The Source (NZ)

“Endearing characters and a childlike sensibility through writing that is clean, precise, and amusing. A wonderful choice for independent reading.” Starred, Booklist (US)

Detective Gordon: The First Case

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